Mama Diaries

Monday, May 19, 2014

How I Found The Write Path




Today, I'm participating in the How I Found the Write Path blogfest.  Carrie Butler over at So You're  a Writer, had the brilliant idea to compile a free ebook for writers just starting their road to publication. To help these folks, she's asking for advice from people who have been on the publishing path for a while.  This will come in the form of a letter from the future self to the self just starting.  So here's my entry, with some tips I've learned along the way.



Dear Self:

So, you want to write a book? Let me tell you a few things I’ve learned after ten years of stumbling around, trying to figure it out. The first step is to do a little research. Don’t just jump blindly into it like I did.  You’ll need to learn about publishers. There are all kinds of options:  Traditional publishers, subsidiary publishers and self-publishing.  A good book to help you learn about these options is, How to Publish and Promote Your Book, by L. Diane Wolfe. If you choose the traditional way (which I would recommend trying first because it’s rather expensive doing it the other ways), you’ll have to figure out which publisher is suitable for your work. Since you want to write children’s books, I’d recommend getting the book, Children’s Writers  and Illustrators Market.  Agents and publishers, along with their submission requirements, are listed.  Another great resource is www.querytracker.com.
  
Of course before you can submit your manuscript, you’ll have to write it. And you’d better make sure it’s the best it can be. This means revise! Yes, the ugly “r” word. You might need to revise a hundred times before you get it right. Trust me. I know! The first draft is never good enough! I’d recommend joining a critique group. They can work wonders on helping you improve your writing skills. Don’t know where to begin? Join a local writing group. Since you’re a children’s writer, find the local SCBWI chapter and attend some meetings. You’ll make friends and learn great tips!

Once you’re happy with your manuscript, and it’s formatted correctly, don’t forget to get it edited – by a professional. Sure, it’ll cost some money, but it’s worth it. You can’t catch everything!

About the submission process – it’s long! Make sure you learn how to write a good query letter and synopsis. And follow the publisher’s directions. Then send. And wait. You may wait a while. And when you finally do get a response, it’ll probably not be what you want to hear. That’s the other ugly “r” word: “rejection.” Get used to it. It’s part of every writer’s experience. Don’t let it get you down. If you happen to get lucky and receive specific feedback from a publisher, consider it, and decide if you want to make the suggested changes. Sometimes they actually know what they’re talking about. Sometimes.

Eventually you’ll see your work in print. If you stick with it, you’ll get there one way or another. Then the fun begins. Marketing. It’s not over once you’re published.  Get ready for the marathon. Marketing is not something you do for a couple of weeks or months. It’s years. I’m talking the entire life of the book (or yours). Make sure you have established an online presence (Facebook, Twitter).  And blog. The blog community is wonderful. They’ll help you get the word out about your book. There are all kinds of things you can do to market – do blog tours, solicit reviews, enter contests and make book trailers. To learn about these and other things, get a book called, 1000 Ways to Market Your Books, by John Kremer. It’ll be your marketing Bible.

The path of a writer is not always easy. You can expect a lot of bumps along the way. But if you stick with it, the rewards are definitely worth it. Good luck!


Sincerely,
Sherry Ellis
Author of That Mama is a Grouch

www.sherryellis.org


I give permission to use this entry in the e-book compilation.



So, what about you? Do you have any great tips you'd share with an author just starting out? 

58 comments:

  1. Posted mine today!
    Yeah, it doesn't end with the writing. And the promoting part can take over.

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  2. so many bumps along the way.... we need a Jeep!

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  3. Great post! I shared mine today, too! Popular topic....

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    1. It certainly is. I wish I'd been able to read some of this advice ten years ago!

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  4. What great advice. I learned a few things here today, thank you for sharing.

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  5. Interesting post, thank you for sharing what I'm sure will be useful to many aspiring authors.

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  6. Have to keep at it indeed at ones feed

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    1. You do a great job of keeping at it!

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  7. That road to published is long and arduous.

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  8. Perseverance is a huge part of any writing endeavor- so true. Very informative post!

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    1. Sometimes it can get really frustrating!

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  9. "You can expect a lot of bumps along the way." That's an understatement Sherry... LOL
    "Marketing is not something you do for a couple of weeks or months. It’s years. I’m talking the entire life of the book (or yours)."
    One word - YIKES!
    Thanks for sharing.

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  10. These are so inspiring. I'm loving this! I just signed up to participate--although mine won't be up until Friday. I had already agreed to do something the other day I blog this week--Wednesday.

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    1. I think a lot of bloggers have signed up to participate. I'm looking forward to reading their advice.

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  11. Very sound advice, Sherry. And I LOVE "1000 Ways to Market Your Books" by John Kremer--my copy is ancient and dog-eared!

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  12. Great advice! There is so much more involved than just writing. Lots of revision and waiting.

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  13. Great advice! There are so many great sources of information these days - I wish I'd been aware of them all when I started out!

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  14. Hmmm, what would I tell myself? Technology is gonna change, so don't put that manuscript on floppy discs and then leave it sit for a decade. Get a move on!

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    1. Haha! It'll be interesting to see what technology is in ten years.

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  15. Great letter, and yes, writing is so much more than just 'write book. Finish book. Sell and make millions.' Anyone who thinks writing/selling/marketing a book isn't a full time job just doesn't understand what we go through.

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  16. Wonderful letter=) I really enjoyed reading it and I couldn't agree with you more... especially regarding the blogging and marketing world. You are absolutely right; it takes a long time to build an online presence. But it's all worth it in the end because you not only broaden your platform, you make incredible friends and colleagues along the way=)

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    1. Yes. I have found the blogging community to be an amazing group of people. Even if I had no books to market, I'd still want to be part of it!

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  17. I have to pick up that marketing book! Yes, it is a marketing marathon, not a sprint.

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  18. Bookmarking this to reference later :) I'm just starting the process of working on my first book (right now I'm leaning towards self-publishing...). I have my title, my idea, and my cover artist lined up-now I just need to do the writing part lol.

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  19. I broke some of those rules, but I don't write for kids. I imagine having someone help with illustrations and such (both the formatting and the cost) would be a blessing.

    Enjoyed your entry, Sherry. :)

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  20. Another great How I Found the Write Path post. It seems a lot of us just jumped in. At least we knew how to dog paddle. I'd do more research before starting if I could do this again.

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    1. Me too! Although if I didn't just jump in, I might still not be published!

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  21. I love to revise because I love to see my writing improve. Excellent post, Mama.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I like seeing my writing improve, too. But it takes such a long time!

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  22. Great letter to your self! I would tell my younger self not to let the rejections stop me from submitting. Yes, they hurt, but it will feel even better when you're accepted. :)

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  23. I'm not published yet but I still have two pieces of advice.

    1) Write from the heart and pour your emotion into it. The more you feel, the more your reader will feel.

    2) Don't worry about the rejection letters. Stephen King, William Golding, and JK Rowling were all rejected multiple times (and the publishers regretted it!) Just keep trying. One day you will find the publisher and the reader base to fit your audience.

    So combining them, don't sell out because of some stupid letter. Write what you feel and what you believe an one day, you'll find the people who agree.

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  24. Doing the research into the different venues of publishing is important. Traditional is great, slower, tougher, maybe more glitz, but maybe be more frustrating too. Many options on this road and you've mapped them out well.

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    1. Thanks. I've learned a lot along the way!

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  25. Good tips, Sherry. You've covered all the important stuff.

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  26. Yes! Marketing is an ongoing endeavor. That's something people rarely take into account when budgeting their time. :)

    Thank you for participating, Sherry!

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  27. Revise and prepare for Rejection. SO true. Love your advice, Sherry.

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  28. This is a very practical guide with lots of great advice. I love that you included links and recommendations - very helpful!

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  29. SO much truth here! I love how specific and practical you got - that's helpful for all of us, and I bet your past self would be seriously grateful :)

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  30. Revision, revision, revision . . . very definitely a part of the writing journey. :) I loved the way you wrote this, and included specific books that helped you on your journey!

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  31. Good summary of the right path needed for a new writer!

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  32. Those "r" words are tough to deal with, but they do help us in the long run. :)

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