Writers are insecure little mammals, all spastic and twitchy. No, really. Poke one with a harsh review and watch him curl up into a ball.
As a result, writers flock to conferences and seminars, forking out cash they don't have for all kinds of crazy workshops such as:
- How to write a cozy vampire space opera romance
- Creating characters that rip out a reader's heart, juggle it around for a hundred pages or so, then replace it with a kiss
- Ninety-nine rules to make the publishing gods bless you with a contract
I know. Those sound like stupid, made-up classes, and you're right. But if these topics were offered as workshops, writers would attend. Why? Because they're looking for answers. Writers want to find the golden ticket to publication. Here’s the deal, though . . .
There are no answers.
Stephen King doesn't have them. Charles Dickens didn't. Not even J.K. Rowling can cast the magical spell for hitting the big time in the book biz. They can give you ideas, suggestions, and possibilities, and even share the milestones of their journeys, but there's nothing carved in stone (hieroglyphics aside) that's an instruction manual for landing a contract. It's all advice.
You, my friend, are the ultimate master of your writing success, namely by writing. That's it. Anyone saying anything else is a snake oil salesman.
There are, however, a few tips that will make your road to publication a little less bumpy.
Five Secrets to Getting Published
1. Learn the craft.
You have to know the writing rules to break the writing rules, even if you're wearing a leather jacket and have a pack of Pall Malls rolled up in your tee-shirt sleeve. How can you rebel if you don't know what you're rebelling against? There are certain writing rules you need to know simply to have an intelligent conversation with another writer—things like point of view, showing vs. telling, writing tight, and the endless debate on whether a Pilot G3 beats out a Uni-Ball Jetstream (and it does, every flipping time).
2. Write a kick a** story.
Even when you've learned the craft of writing, story is still king. If a reader doesn't care about the sweeping saga of a love-struck coyote pining for a rock badger in Colonial America, you're not going to sell the dang thing. There's got to be an oh-my-goodness-what-happens-next kind of breadcrumb trail to lead your reader from beginning to end.
3. Breathe life into your characters.
And not just the hero and heroine, baby. Any character that shows up in your story needs to be a person of interest, even if that "person" is a dolphin. Your reader needs to relate to your characters in some way, shape, or form or they just won't give a fig about them. And personally, I hate figs. Fig Newtons included.
4. Finish what you start.
Newsflash: if you keep re-writing and overthinking the first few chapters, you'll never type "The End." Seriously, didn't you learn this in preschool? Listen up, class. When we begin a project, we should see it through to completion. Unless, of course, you're sheet-rocking a ceiling. In that case, just hire it out.
5. Get out there and network.
I understand you're an introvert. Most writers are. Quit whining and make a run to Target for some big kid undies. The point is that you need to suck it up and go meet agents and editors. They are the gatekeepers for traditional publishers. And even if you decide to self-publish, you'll need to network to get the word out about your book.
There you have it, boys and girls. It really is as simple as pounding your head against the wall. All getting published takes is perseverance and a bucket load of blood, sweat, and tears.
About the Author . . .
Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager.
She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones.
Follow her adventures at her blog WRITER OFF THE LEASH or visit michellegriep.com, and don’t forget the usual haunts of Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.
About the Book: Writer Off the Leash . . .
Are you a writer at heart? How can you tell? And if you are, how do you go about composing and selling the next Great American Novel?
WRITER OFF THE LEASH answers these questions and more--all in an easy to understand, tongue-in-cheek style. This is more than a how-to book. It's a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn't know how to take their writing to the next level. Award-winning author MICHELLE GRIEP blows the lid off stodgy old-school rulebooks and makes it clear that writing can--and should--be fun.