Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Breaking Into Publishing

The days when opportunity came knocking at your door are all but gone. Now, one must seek out opportunity's door and knock on it. It doesn't hurt to come armed with a lock-pick kit and a sledgehammer as back up. The publishing world is changing, not only because times are hard but because of the electronic revolution. It's pretty safe to say it has never been harder to break into publishing. Unfortunately just writing a great novel isn't enough any more. A lot of factors come into play when you're trying to land an agent and sell your novel. The timing and material has to be right. If you wrote an outstanding novel that involves a trend that's on it's way out, agents and publishers will probably pass you by. So they're looking for the next big thing then right? Yes and no.

They're looking for something that has the potential to be outstanding, is fresh and innovative, but that people can relate to. Now you're totally confused aren't you? Don't feel bad, I'm right there with you. Not only does timing have to be right but there is a huge amount of luck that comes into play when you're introducing a new idea or one that's trendy. Voice and style are also a large part of it. You can write a book about a trendy idea but have a completely fresh voice or style that makes it something new.

So what can you do to increase your chances of succeeding in this increasingly discerning and competitive market? Perfect your craft. Take classes, go to retreats or workshops, or read books on the subject, that's your lock-pick kit. While my young adult paranormal series was on submission I've completed another stand alone novel in a different genre. There's the sledgehammer, a positive enduring attitude that won't give up. If you keep writing you increase you chances of success. It's important to keep improving your craft as well. If you can't attend writer's retreats or workshops in person then do so online. If that still isn't an option then pick up books on writing to help you improve.

A vital thing you need to realize is that agents and editors can't define your success if you don't let them. Don't stop improving, don't stop writing, and most important, don't give up. In the end, know your options and weigh them all.



  1. Heather, this is excellent advice. I've learned so much in the few conferences I've attended and the books I've read. So many more to read, so much to learn, and so much wisdom to gather at conferences. You've been an inspiration for continued improvement. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. As a writer and someone who works in the publishing industry, I couldn't agree more. There are lots of people out there publishing and it is important to take these steps outlined. We see too many people want to cut out editing, or proofreading, refuse to read other books or to know what is on the market. As well as a focus on improving writing, the marketing is a big fear factor for many authors, and there is no way around it. You need to get to know all sides of the business. Get educated and focus on improving. Avoid the overhwhelm of needing to know it all now, but know that things improve over time with practice. I think you will find some valuable articles pertaining to all areas of this on the FriesenPress blog.

  3. Hi, Heather,

    This is such good advice. We all get into funk every now and then when things don't go our way. But having a positive attitude, caring and thoughtful blogger friends who post insightful and excellent advice, and honing ones craft will hopefully get us where we want to go.... Man that was a mouthful...LOL

    Thanks Heather!

  4. Karlene, I'm touched, thank you!

    Matthew, thank you for your link. It sounds like a great blog. And you're so right, I couldn't agree more. First we must really and truly know what we're getting into and that takes time.

    Michael, thank you. A positive attitude is the key!

  5. Keep trying. Keep trying. Keep trying.

    It's something we know, but some days it's all but impossible, you know? But I love the phrase about publishers looking for the next outstanding. YAY for that.

  6. Heather, this is excellent advice. And you're proving that writers can pave their own paths these days. I love it!

  7. I agree with you, it's a long slog and not giving up is key. I admire your ability to write something completely different whilst your book was on submission - I could only write short stories, not another novel. I simply couldn't give up on my book and thank goodness my stubborn efforts weren't misplaced.

    Something I'm coming to realise is that publication is only one tiny stepping stone when in the past, it seemed like the only mountain to climb. Stamina is key, isn't it?

  8. Nice pep talk! I needed it, LOL! :D

  9. Those are such great suggestions for increasing our chances in this difficult market, Heather, thank you for the reminder! (And sorry for such a late comment . . . Could Not Get On with Blogger the last few days . . . grrrr.)