books, fiction, memoir, nonfiction, novels, publishing, writing, writing tips
Photo Credit: Pascal Schwab via Compfight cc
Whenever I give writing workshops or teach a writing class, I always end with “going from here.” Now that the students have learned something (hopefully!), what do they need to do to get their work published?
I say, don’t even think about publishing until you’ve done the following:
* Realize that writing a book is a long process. You’re not going to have something with publishable quality after a few months or a year. You might have a draft in that time, but that’s only the start of the process.
* Revise, revise, revise. My memoir went through seven drafts. When I talk to writing friends, I think I got off easy. I know people who have gone through 12, 17, even 20+ drafts before their books were published. Generally, the edits get fewer and the process goes faster the deeper you get into it, but even so, revising an entire book takes time and effort.
* Get feedback. You cannot write in a vacuum. You need other eyes on your writing, people who will say what works and what doesn’t work and what you need to add/subtract. Ideally, these are people who know their stuff–published authors with credentials whom you can trust. Where do you find these people? Many authors will do manuscript reviews as a side job. If they offer those services it’s usually mentioned on their websites. Almost any author will consider doing this work if you pay them 🙂
* Take writing classes. The Loft is always a great resource for writing instruction. It offers both in-person and online classes. You can also check your local college/university. Look for free or reduced-fee classes or workshops at libraries and community centers.
I’ve served on several review panels over the years that evaluate writers’ work. I’m looking for evidence of realistic goals and a commitment to the craft. If writers incorporate the tips above into their writing practices, they are going to be in a much better position to find success.
Minnesota Prairie Roots said:
I agree. Great advice. One issue I’ve encountered is “everyone thinks he/she can write a book.” This comes from individuals who are not writers but feel the need to get their stories in print…but they can’t necessarily write and are unwilling to accept suggestions/criticism. That’s a challenge.
I agree with these, but most people are unwilling to do all of them. And some can’t or think they can’t do the class thing. It’s often expensive.
Classes can be expensive, I agree. But communities and libraries, especially here in Minnesota, are really great at offering workshops, readings, classes, etc., for a nominal fee.
Hi Rachael! This is a great article about publishing. I am interested in featuring this article in full on my website, A Writer’s Path (www.ryanlanz.com), where I frequently feature guest posters on writing tips. I would include your credit, bio, and a link back to your blog.
Feel free to check out my blog to make sure it’s a good place to be featured. I have over 8,400 subscribers that would be exposed to your blog.
If you’re interested, please drop me a line on the “contact me” portion of my blog so that we can discuss permission.
I like your list, and I do agree with it. I’ve met a lot of people who write say you don’t need writing classes. Needless to say, I’ve always disagreed with them.
I think a lot of people, especially beginning writers, don’t realize the work involved and the necessity to always be working on your craft through classes, feedback, etc. Thanks for the comment!
You’re welcome 🙂
Lisa Simons said:
Great blog post!
Thanks, Lisa! You know all of this 🙂