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Getting Published: Publishing Tips And Advice From Rose Desrochers
It appears that today everyone is a writer, and we all have the same dream. We all hope to someday be published. So as writers, where do we get started?
I suggest joining writing groups first and start seeking feedback that can help your career as a writer. It is most likely that your closest friends and family are telling you that your writing is the greatest thing since Steven King’s, and maybe it is, but it doesn't hurt to get some feedback from your fellow writers.
Once you are ready to take that plunge into the deep oceans of writing to see your work published for the first time, the best places to start are magazines and e-zines looking for calls for submission. For example, there are over 150 publishers listed on the Today's Woman Writing Community website, all looking for stories and poetry.
You are going to want to purchase a copy of Writer's Market that is published annually. This is an essential book for writers who are interested in publishing their work. You are also going to want to research your market. You are going to want to see just what kind of stories the magazine publishers are seeking. Each publisher will have specific guidelines to follow.
Offer your short stories for publication in their magazines, and be sure to list your other published work if any, and thank the editor for considering your work. If you are hoping to see your book published, some publishers will want you to send them your entire manuscript, while others may only want a query letter outlining your book proposal. Some may wish to see a few chapters from the book. If you're sending a full manuscript or sample chapters, always include an S.A.S.E. (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope) bearing sufficient postage with your submission. Present a cover letter that is professional. I suggest doing a Google search for query letter to give you some examples. If you are submitting by email, make sure that you follow the guidelines on the publisher’s website.
Stories posted on websites - are they personal or published?
In some cases, magazines will consider a story posted on your website or in an open community to be published. Therefore, they will not be able to claim first rights to it and most magazines, newspapers, etc. will not accept it as a submission. This will differ from publisher to publisher, and it is a very gray area. I suggest if you are submitting work that has already appeared on the web for publication, mention in the cover letter the forums or site where the story has been posted and let the editor make an informed decision.
There is a great debate in the writing community regarding simultaneous submissions. I have had a few interesting discussions myself. Some feel that it is the only way to get published quickly; others feel that it could lead to a bad reputation for you as a writer. This is due to the fact that publisher one will invest time in to reading your manuscript, only to find later it has been accepted by another publisher. I do encourage writers who wish to use simultaneous submission to advise the editors of it in their query letters.
Look over the contract:
Many first-time writers are so excited to just be published that they sign their name on anything without fully reading the contract. I can honestly say this is one mistake that I have made. Without carefully reading over the contract, you could sign yourself into a contract where for the next seven years you are bound to it and your publisher is reaping the rewards. Do not get trapped into this loop hole. Make sure you do an in-depth check into the background of any publisher. Once you send off your manuscript, now the fun comes. You sit and wait.
How long does it take?
It could take from 8 to 10 weeks to 8 to 10 months. Don't be discouraged by rejections; every writer gets rejected. Even Steven King was rejected. One published author says every story, on average, must be submitted to 100 markets before it is accepted.
You are going to want to know about rights, like first serial rights, etc. On Today's Woman under ‘writing lessons,’ there are some great articles that cover rights. Please be sure to check them out.
Getting published isn't easy. The editors get thousands of unsolicited Manuscripts a year. Don't give up. Start at the bottom and work up. I know some very talented writers who still aren't published. They've been trying for years. Writing is all about creating a name for yourself and that takes time.
If you are really eager about having your book published, you may wish to consider self-publishing or POD (print on demand) publishing. If you are considering this, I suggest developing a budget for publishing and advertising costs. You are going to want to shop around and look at the different prices of POD publishers or printing companies.
If you are going to go the self-publishing route you are going to need your own ISBN number and cover designer. In Canada you can get an ISBN number through http://www.collectionscanada.ca/isbn/s11-202-e.html. If you're looking for a print on demand publisher, I suggest starting at the Today's Woman Writing Community database of POD Publishers http://www.todays-woman.net/link-49.html. Be sure to consider factors such as set-up costs, royalty payments, control over your book, distribution, cover price, advertising and the publisher's reputation. The Internet can be a very useful tool as it allows you to investigate the company's name to see if other writers have had trouble with the company. Another approach to learning about the reputation of a publishing company might be to post questions within the different writing groups.
Todays-Woman.net also hosts a ‘Warning Writers’ page http://www.todays-woman.net/poetry-scams.html. Be sure to do your homework and never just take the publisher’s word.
If you write poetry, why not consider making a chapbook of your poetry. A chapbook is "a small book or pamphlet containing poems, ballads, stories, or religious tracts" (MIT) the term is still used today to refer to short, inexpensive booklets. Be sure to read my article "Make a Chapbook of Your Poetry". http://www.todays-woman.net/article805.html
Remember self-publishing means just what it says- self-publishing- you do the editing, the marketing, advertising, distribution, and sales.
It might be good to get some writing credits under your name before you think big. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you much success and hope you never give up on your dreams.
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” -William Arthur Ward
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