Writing Tips - I'm planning on sharing writing tips here and on other subpages of the site, but if you go to my blog, you'll find a bunch of them by searching via #writing or #amwriting or #improv.
How to Become a Traditionally Published Author
First off, I have a disclaimer. I wrote "TRADITIONALLY" up there because I currently have no idea how to be a self-published author. I'm sure someday I will know how to be a self-published author, but I am honestly:
1. Not organized enough to be a self-published author
2. Way too cheap to hire people to edit, copy edit, design, and market. Seriously. I am so cheap that I am having a hard time justifying conditioner even though my hair is currently a tangled mess. I also need a haircut. But again. I am cheap. It's kind of a problem. I grew up super poor so I always worry about running out of money. Being a writer for a living has not helped with this issue.
Back on Track: Also, I think a lot of the steps are similar because whether or not you are a tradionally published author or a self-published author you have to write a book. Right?
1. You Have to Want It
Seriously. You have to want to be published enough to devote time to it.
Talking about writing does not equal wanting it.
Writing words down somewhere?
That equals wanting it.
2. You Have to Write
Words have to make their way onto a computer or a notebook or something. You can't publish The Book of Awesome without writing The Book of Awesome.
3. You Have to Read
Reading is studying. We learn the craft by immersing ourselves in the tools of the craft. That means stories and sentences. Words are just symbols of images and objects and actions. It's cool to see how other authors use those symbols, arrange them, pick them out. That's how we learn! Repeat after me: Learning is fun.
4. Do Not Freak Out That You Suck
Everyone sucks. Everyone is brilliant. And almost everyone thinks that they suck and that they are brilliant and that they suck. It's like a cycle. You can't get hung up on how good The Book of Awesome is ESPECIALLY on the first draft. You just have to write and write and write until you get to the end of the first draft because that's where the fun starts.
5. Global Revision is Awesome
No. I am not lying. Revision really is awesome. It's like making a collage. You cut things up, add things in, smell some ModPodge and laquer that whole thing up into something beautiful, something with layer and meaning, something that makes sense. Revision is what saves us all from the suck that is our first draft, and if you think about it as putting a puzzle together or solving THE MYSTERY THAT IS YOUR PLOT or THE MYSTERY OF HOW TO MAKE EVERYONE NOT HATE YOUR MAIN CHARACTER, it's super fun.
Revision is not about hating yourself. Revision is about loving your story enough to step up and make it shine.
6. Line Edits
Okay. Line edits are where I pretend I'm one of those writers that are in movies. You know the kind, right? They worry over every word. They hook-up an IV line of scotch because they use the word "cringe" 87 times in a 1,000 word poem. That sort of thing. Line edits are like when you pretend to be an evil editor, red-lining words out, deleteing images, and all that stuff. It's kind of hot in a sadistic way.
7. Write a Query
This is the part where I used to cry. That's because the writing side of awesome has suddenly turned into the business side of getting noticed. I am a flamboyant person when out in the world, but I am sooooo super shy and soooo horrifying self-deprecating. Like I have a hard time admitting to the fact that I am a best-selling author because it seems braggy to me. I know. I have issues.
Anyway, I hate this part but it is super necessary to getting published.
A query is a letter to an agent or publisher telling them why he or she wants you and your book. It's like speed dating in 300 words or less and you don't get to wear a cute skirt or lick your lips or anything.
Queryshark is the best resource for this. It's Janet Reid's site. She's an agent. queryshark.blogspot.com
8. Hello? Hello? We Should Be a Couple
Now that you have a query letter, you have to start searching for an agent. An agent represents you and your book, helps you find a home for your book, negotiates contracts, rights and takes about 15% of your earnnings as his or her agent pay. You want an agent who loves your work, tolerates you, that you feel respected by, that communicates with you, that advocates for you.
Basically, you want your agent to be kick ass in a way that doesn't intimidate you but instead compliments you.
Remember to keep track of what agents you send stuff to! Also, do not stalk them.
Just like there are good cops and bad cops, good cheese and bad cheese, there are good agents and bad agents.
A nice place to sort through them is pred-ed.com, which is Preditors and Editors.
A good way to find them is agentquery.com
9. Shove Your Baby Out the Door
Now that you have:
1. A book
2. A query letter
3. Agents to send it to
You have to shove your book baby out into the big world. Do that.
1. Follow the agents' guidelines about how many pages of your book that they want with the query letter.
2. Not seem like a stalker, but seem like you know a little something about the agent's other clients, or likes.
3. Be detail oriented. Follow all those guidelines about submissions that the agent has posted out there. Really. This is not the time to be a quirky cupcake by writing YOU WANT ME AND YOU KNOW IT WE BELONG TOGETHER as teh subject line in your email query.
10. Wait Forever
You will probably have to wait forever to hear anything from your potential Best Agent in the World about the Book of Awesome. This is normal. This is annoying. Try not to stress. Realize that when you do stress it is normal to stress.
Write while you wait.
11. Accept What Happens
Sometimes your Book of Awesome will not find a Best Agent in the World. This does not mean you suck. Repeat after me: I do not suck.
It just means what then?
It means nothing, honestly. Publishing is weird and slow and subjective. A book nobody notices can become a international bestseller in a couple years.
So... if everyone says no, you must just keep writing. Query a little more, but in the meantime write another book. If you want to write as a career, you have to treat it as a career, and keep producing words, refining your craft, practicing your trade. If you are already working on other Books of Awesome, it makes it much easier to deal with Book One of Awesome being rejected.
If an agent asks for a FULL, this means she wants to see the whole entire Book One of Awesome. Send it. If they like it they will probably call you. Try to be cool about this. It will be hard.
If an agent asks for a full, calls, and then offers to represent you...
1. Do a happy dance.
2. Do the happy dance silently so the agent doesn't hear whooping noises.
3. Tell them you'd like a little time to think about it.
4. Think about it or at least pretend to.
5. Keep dancing.
6. Accept offer.
7. If you have queries out to other agents, send them a quick note saying you've accepted representation somewhere else and thank them for their time and consideration.
8. Dance more.
9. Wait while your agent send out Book of Awesome to publishers.
10. Try not to stress. This is called Being on Sub (submission) and it is super stressful.
11. Keep writing.
12. If you get an offer from a publisher - Boom! You are golden. Your agent will craft that offer with you and - Booyah. You are traditionally published.
Please remember to be nice throughout the whole process. It's stressful. Life is stressful, but try to be kind even when you are in the pits of rejection despair. It's super important.
Yay! Good luck!