No, my husband didn't surprise me with a dozen red roses. (Although that does happen occasionally:)
And no, I wasn't offered a book contract. Yet.
Nope. Tickets to my favorite hockey team's next game were not delivered to my front door.
But those were all good guesses; thanks for trying.
Actually, in a nutshell, I had someone ask how to get their writing published. I get this or a similar question on a regular basis, so I decided to post my thoughts and get your input. This is what I call a "tip of the iceberg" question. There is no simple cut and dried answer, and the response is multi-faceted. There's always something to learn, and just about the time you think you've got it down, the market changes.
This is my basic response:
1) Take a writing course.
Options abound, free and otherwise. Just because we like to write doesn't mean we know how and where to submit work. I learned a LOT from the courses I took years ago at the Institute for Children's Literature. I saved time, stress, and cut the learning curve down quite a bit in regard to what publications want.
Here's a sampling of course offerings.
Coffeehouse for Writers, Writer's Digest, Poynter's News University, Long Ridge Writer's Group, Institute for Children's Literature, Faith Writers
2) Join a writer's group.
Groups can be found through the local paper, an online search, or simply by word of mouth. Most sites (like the ones above) that offer courses also have online support and/or critique groups. If you can't find a local group, start one, but keep it simple. A group is a great place to encourage each other, and share resources, links, and other goodies.
3) Attend a writer's conference.
Conventions, conferences, and workshops abound. National, state, and local groups sponsor ones of all sizes. Don't discount smaller offerings; just because the keynote speaker's name isn't a household word doesn't mean they don't have lots to share.
4) Take advantage of books, magazines, websites, and blogs.
Here again, resources abound. And then some. The sites above, as well as scads of others, offer articles, links to blogs, book reviews, and books for purchase. Hope Clark's Funds for Writers site has a newsletter, blog, and enough other resources to keep any writer busy for a while. Writing for Dollars is another helpful stop, with a database of articles that suit any writer's needs.
5) Keep learning.
Always. Keep writing, sharpening skills, and moving ahead. There is always something to learn.
Now it's your turn. What did I miss? What advice would you offer? What was the most helpful advice you had when starting out? Please feel free to share liberally. Thanks so much!
Image Credit: Andreyutzu http://www.sxc.hu/photo/936343