How Do I Get Published? Part 2
Posted by Bruce Hennigan
So some of the readers of this blog took my opening words of the previous blog too much to heart. As I said in that entry, those comments were made to me by a well known publishing editor. They were not aimed at any of my friends. So far, those who have spoken to me about their books are receptive to my suggestions. Jack, you are a good friend and your story was compelling and that is WHY you must write it down as you intend to do.
Let’s face it, when we are striving for recognition for our story (or ourselves) we can sometimes be too full of ourselves! I know this is true of me. I often regale my fellow physicians with my personal stories at the lunch time doctor’s cafeteria. But, I have learned to know when to shut up. It is a very important and useful tool to know when it is time to stop before you go too far. Many, many times less is more!
I go back to my closing statements from last entry. If you want to be published then you have to focus on that one book you are most passionate about and NOTHING else! It is the ONLY way you will finish the task. I wasted twenty years writing various versions of various novels before I learned this lesson. I did not complete my first novel until I was in my forties.
Get on with it! Write it all down and finish it!
Now, to the next hardest task:
Imagine if you will that you want a child. You have dreamed of having your own son or daughter. In your mind, you see yourself playing with that child, watching the child grow, beaming with pride when they graduate and being very happy when they get married and have grandchildren. Such a proud parent!
You even share this desire with others. In fact, you are so determine to have this child you are committed to that end. Now, imagine you walk to another parent and share your desire, your plans, your hopeful joyful future and then you say:
“Now, you go ahead and have the child for me and I’ll come pick them up when they start first grade.”
This sounds absurd, but many “want to be” authors think just like this. They talk to published authors about their “book”. They may even have written down an outline or thoughts or a few chapters but these efforts lay fallow in the shadow of the DREAM.
Let me be very abrupt and honest: Being a published author is WORK. Writing is hard work. It is long and tedious hours of sitting before a keyboard and bleeding all over the page. It is telling a compelling story with engaging characters in conflict leading toward a satisfying conclusion. It doesn’t just HAPPEN. You can’t offload your writing to someone else. YOU have to do ti! You have to write.
But, the writing is the easy part. Let me say that again. Writing is the easy part. The harder work begins with the editing process. The most important change I made in my writing took place years and years ago after compiling dozens of rejection letters. I realized that I was a good storyteller but there must have been something wrong with my writing. Why were editors not snapping up my excellent stories and publishing them? My stories were good. Was there something wrong with my writing?
I enrolled in the Writer’s Digest Short Fiction Course. It changed my writing career. I realized there are BASIC RULES a writer must use in their stories or they will confuse and leave the reader behind. Once I learned these very basic rules, I couldn’t believe I was making so many simple mistakes. I took the Advanced Short Fiction Course. I took the Introduction to a Novel course and the Advanced novel course.
But I learned the most when I was working with a professional editor on two of my books with Realms imprint of Strang Publishing. Andy Meisenheimer (https://nybookeditors.com/editorprofile/andy-meisenheimer/) led me out of the wilderness in which I was wandering and showed me my flaws, my recurring mistakes, and my weak story telling.
This is an essential skill any person must learn who desires to be published. You cannot ignore it. You cannot work around it. Yes, I know that “artists” shouldn’t obey the rules. But, the moment you decided to be published, you must realize you will be entering into a contract with a publisher who is a business. That business has a model that must be followed. Your work is no longer completely yours. You have sold your soul to the publisher and you are now answerable to the editor of that publisher.
The sooner you realize this, the better off you will be when the disappointments come. And, they wlll. Over and over. Be prepared! Gird your loins! You will be rejected. Over and over. Just read about any best selling author and they will tell you how many times they had to shop around their bestselling novel before someone saw the potential and took a chance.
The best thing to be done to avoid this disappointment is to become an effective editor now. How do you do this? Two ways: become an editor yourself or pay a professional editor to help with your manuscript.
I would suggest both strategies.
First and foremost, buy the book “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print” by Renni Browne. It’s on Amazon in ebook and print version. Don’t dawdle. Do it! Now! Once you get the book, read it from start to finish and do the exercises. You will be amazed at what you learn! Then, read it again before you write your next manuscript. Do what I did, note your weaknesses and make a list of those weakness with suggestions from the book on how to avoid those mistakes.
I will tell you now, if we ever come face to face or have an online conversation the first thing I will ask is “Have you gotten Self Editing for Fiction Writers”? If you haven’t, there is not need to continue to talk with you. This is a MUST if you want to write fiction as far as I’m concerned. Don’t assume you know how to write. Don’t be that narcissistic! Hubris kills! Humble yourself and read the book!
Second, enlist in an online course. Writer’s Digest has excellent courses. Yes, they cost money. But anything worth having is worth paying for. Pay the money! Do the work! Learn! It will be worth it.
By now, I hope you are beginning to realize the overwhelming weight of a commitment to becoming a published author. By now, you may want to abandon your quest. Maybe writing a journal for yourself or posting on a blog are all you need to do. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that. A writer writes. Period. You DON”T have to be published! But, realize that becoming published is costly, not only financially but with time and effort and sweat, blood, and tears. If you are still committed at this point then read on.
Once you have learned your necessary skills on your own to become an effective editor of your work realize you may have to throw out the entire manuscript and start over. You may have to surgically remove those wonderful paragraphs of prose and descriptions to make the story MOVE. Editing is painful but worth every deleted word and reworked scene. When the story becomes tight and taught and moves with relentless speed toward a satisfying conclusion, you know it; you FEEL it; and the exhilaration is exquisite!
There is a third option. At this point, it might be a good suggestion to enlist professional help. Not me! I am NOT a professional editor! Do not ask me to read and critique your work. It would be a disservice to you. I would only read your work with the admonition in mind of how “I would do it”. But it is NOT my story. It is yours told by you in your style and your voice. So, where to go for help?
The Creative Penn, https://www.thecreativepenn.com, is an indispensable website. This is one of the best sites for any aspiring author. She is a Christian fiction author and her site has curated all the necessary components of putting together a novel and getting it published. There is a section on editing services and any one of those services would be acceptable. Just know that professional editing is costly. For full edits it can run up to 6 cents a word. For a 60,000 word novel, that is $3600! But, with the right editor, you can learn so much about your writing and that editor is there until you have the finished, polished manuscript. Some services offer a “Manuscript critique” that is not as costly. This would be a good way to learn if you are on the right track or not and if you should continue.
Working with a professional editor will teach you so much about your writing style. It will show you the weaknesses of your story and the weaknesses of your writing process. But, with the good editor, you will become a much better writer.
Again, I am NOT a professional editor. I have developed my own personal approach to my writing and I now edit my own work with help from programs such as Grammatical for the grammar corrections I need to make. Still, even with professional help or with my own editing, I continue to find typographical errors in my finished, published books! It seems there is always something I miss!
My good friend, Michael Licona, (risenjesus.org) once made an analogy regarding the perceived differences in the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus. He said that the survivors of the sinking of the Titanic were divided into two camps. One group said the ship sank intact in one piece. The other group said the ship broke in half before it sank. Much debate and professional arguments ensured over this issue. But, the main thing to take home was the Titanic sank! The big truth was right there for the word to see but we quarrel over minutiae. In many ways, you can apply this to your writing. You want the big picture to come through and yes, the “minutiae” is important as part of the story. But, don’t sink the ship because of a few overlooked typos!
Now, what happens?
About Bruce HenniganPublished novelist, dramatist, apologist, and physician.
Posted on December 18, 2021, in Steel Chronicles and tagged Christian publishing, getting published, new author, self editing, self publishing, The Creative Penn, writer. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on How Do I Get Published? Part 2.
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