I’ve been asked how I got published. The answer is simple...I lied. That’s right, I lied.
I wouldn’t recommend it, although it worked for me. It certainly could have blown up in my face, but wether it was sheer will and determination or dumb luck, I’ll never know. Here’s how it went...
I pitched a very unfinished novel (as if it were done) to major NY publishers and agents at a writers conference in Chicago. I was shocked, delighted and appalled that everyone I pitched to asked for a full manuscript. After a brief and hopefully unnoticeable panic attack, I very logically explained to them that I needed to get the book professionally edited (real meaning--write it) and would have it to them in three weeks. What the hell did I have to lose? My sanity had been gone for years.
Having been an actor for umpteen decades came in handy. Clearly, pretending to smell delicious imaginary aromas in commercial auditions and becoming one with my inner lawn gnome in acting class, made my fear of telling ginormous lies nonexistent.
The next part of the story goes like this...I went home and wrote it. I didn’t sleep for three weeks, my family ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly and no one in the house had any clean underpants. I loved every minute of it. I ended up with several offers and went with a two book deal with Kensington Publishing.
That’s my crazy story, but the real answer to getting published is to write. Just write. Everyday. Every writer I’ve had the good fortune to know says the same thing. Oh, and read...tons.
Writing groups are a great idea too. I promised myself I would join RWA (Romance Writers of America) when I got three quarters of the way through my first novel. That would be my waaay too long (150,000 word) paranormal romance that everyone and his mother rejected. Joining RWA was one of the smartest things I did. There are local chapters in cities all over America.
I was such a nervous wreck about going to my first meeting with real writers that when I couldn’t find a parking space, I turned around and drove home.
Thankfully, I grew some bigger testicles and went to their next meeting. I met some of the neatest and most generous women. My unpublished status and huge pile of rejection letters were greeted with similar stories that made me gasp, laugh and cringe (all at the same time). I learned to embrace my rejections, look at my writing with a more critical eye and grow thicker skin. In this group of amazing women, I found critique partners, cheerleaders and friends.
It’s empowering to be with others who share your passion, no matter where you are in your career. I highly recommend it.
I do believe writing the book of your heart (i.e. my grossly overwritten vampire tome) is important, but knowing what’s marketable is not stupid. I wanted more people than just my mom to read my books! So I just kept at it, read industry blogs and entered contests...
Oh, and I lied.
The publishing industry has changed and continues to change. With digital reading devices now in the game, viable options for writers are endless. I have extremely talented friends who publish traditionally through NY and equally as talented friends who are publishing independently. Many writers are doing both, very successfully.
The bottom line is that you have to write a good book and then you have to never give up. And while you’re 'never giving up,' you have to write more good books. It’s a wonderful thing to have a job where you can work in your underpants.
Writing may seem like a solitary sport, but it’s not. A critique partner, other writing friends, spell check, Coke® with extra ice in a styrofoam cup and a great editor are just a few of the things I think every writer needs.
So that’s my story. I’m not sure how good the lesson is, but the ending is happy. I love happy endings.