Monday, December 13, 2010

It Happened Again



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. 


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!

Happy writing,
Karen



Image Credit: Andreyutzu  http://www.sxc.hu/photo/936343

53 comments :

  1. Hi Karen! I agree there is no cut and dried answer to THAT question, but you did a great job in mentioning all of the above. I only thought of two other things I remember hearing when I first started: 1) READ, read, read! Especially in the genre I wanted to write. And 2) Submit! Don't be afraid to submit your work. Especially to contests and calls for submissions that do not charge any fees. Nothing lossed on those, but something wonderful could be gained!! A first publication! Thanks!

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  2. Hello Karen, always like to stop by and read what you have to say. Hope you are keeping well. xxx

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  3. I missed a couple of those items, but it still worked out.
    Still hope you get those hockey tickets!

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  4. Becky,
    Yes! Those are great points, thank you:) And the more we educate ourselves as we go along, through courses, reading materials, etc. the better we are at hitting the mark when submitting.

    Raymonde,
    Good to see you, friend! Thanks for your vote of confidence:) Hope you and your gang are well too.

    Alex,
    I'd say that you are doing well. We can all get there, sometimes it just takes longer, or not. Hockey tickets - me too! :)

    Have a good week, all,
    Karen

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  5. Yes, those are all the things that I recommend too. :)

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  6. I'm asked maybe twice a year. I'm just so grateful I never asked anyone. Though I did subject them to samples of terrible writing.

    Great post, Karen. Merry Christmas!

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  7. I think writers groups are still the best way to go. If one doesn't work drop it and try another. I have my Yahoo! BBT Group and they have helped me in ways I could not have imagined.

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  8. I actually have tried to do a couple of these items. Currently time is my number one enemy, holidays, bah humbug.

    Wonderful response though. Have a great holiday Karen. :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

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  9. Jennifer,
    Thanks for your input! It's valued indeed, being that you have a successful book out. :)

    Joylene,
    Well, we all start somewhere, don't we? :) Thanks a bunch!

    Stephen,
    Yes, good thought. I agree, don't be afraid to switch groups till you find the right fit. Thanks!

    Jules,
    I hear you - time! And where exactly does it go each day? I'm working on that one too.

    Blessings all,
    Karen

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  10. You're so amazing, girl! I LOVE to encourage those who ask this question...but often wonder if, after the hour-long monologue, they wish they would've not asked!!!

    Blessings,
    Patti

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  11. Hi Karen...I would say, just write. Do not focus on publication. It happens when it's supposed to. In the meantime, keep pen to paper (or fingers to computer screen). Write everything inside your heart and enjoy the process! For me, if something gets published, I'm thrilled. If it doesn't, it's still written for my future grandchildren! ha! Susan

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  12. Great suggestions! I'd add to keep reading!

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  13. Hi Karen - All are so important! To that I would add "submit" because there are so many writers who fear rejection and don't take that step.

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  14. Patti,
    You make me blush, you know that? I know, and an hour barely covers it! Like I said, "tip of the iceberg"...:)

    Susan,
    You do have a heart for writing and a good attitude to go along with it! :)

    Laura,
    Thank you! Yes, that is so important; it should be added to the list.

    Lisa,
    There are so many key factors, aren't there? I agree, fear of failure can hold us back.

    Blessings all,
    Karen

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  15. Karen,

    You've just about covered the bases for becoming a published writer. I'd hasten to add that you never give up even when all seems lost...keep writing, reading & applying what you've learned until "it" happens :)

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  16. Karen,
    Study your market/audience. I think that needs to go up with the top. Writer's Digest was my only school for a long time...checked out from the library. Then I got online, then I found classes. I'm going to my first regional conference in Jan. since my college days. I can't wait. Thanks for all your encouragement.

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  17. Thanks Karen they’re good points.
    I think it's also important to reflect on how far you've come. I find I get frustrated by not having a finished product, that yet again I'm changing it, making it better. I can't wait for the day that it's done, but until then I have to remind myself how much I've achieved, what I’ve learnt, how I've grown and developed in this book of mine. It's what keeps me going - being thankful.

    sallynapthali.com.au

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  18. Here's some information on writing a proposal. Rachel Kent wrote four lessons. It's great information and very helpful especially for a newbie like me.
    http://www.booksandsuch.biz/blog/category/blog/marketing-publicity/

    sallynapthali.com.au

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  19. Wow... no need to add anything else :)

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  20. Yeah, a big thing for me is "do your research". Muy importante!

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  21. Clara
    Oh yes, that is so important! Glad you brought that up, thanks. :)

    Carol,
    Another excellent point! Those market guides are worth their weight, that's for sure. Thanks, Carol.

    Sally,
    And yet another great point, thanks so much! Thanks also for coming back and posting the link. I'll have to check it out.

    Marja,
    We've got a good bunch of tips going, don't we? :)

    Kristen,
    This is so true. Better to take the time to do research and up your chances of getting accepted. Thanks:)

    Blessings all,
    Karen

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  22. Hi Karen -

    There's such wisdom in your advice. I believe taking advantage of some or all of these tips will increase a writer's chances of being published. It will also help them avoid many pitfalls.

    Other writers have used the illustration of a more experienced person giving a newbie a hand up. I'd much rather learn from someone who has experience than by trial and error.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  23. Great advice. My writing grew by leaps and bounds because I read everything I could access on writing and I joined a writing network. The course I took was the icing on the cake.

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  24. All good advice, Karen. And I add, "Never give up."

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  25. Karen, I have an award for you today!

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  26. Thanks for the links Karen. I'll be checking them out when a have a few days off during the holidays to focus on writing again!

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  27. Great list! I would say, write, read, get crits. Rinse, repeat.
    :)

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  28. Agreed to all of the above! I just blogged about critique groups yesterday.

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  29. All the right answers! In fact someone asked me that recently and I missed out on telling them about the conferences. It's so important to know your peers and what better way than meeting them in person?

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  30. Susan,
    This is a good point. Reflecting to when I started, these things helped me avoid many pitfalls so this is why I recommend them so highly. I agree, seasoned help is a plus.

    Joy,
    Nice to meet you! Good moves, all, to move ahead. Will hop over to your blog. :)

    Patricia,
    Thank you. Oh yes, that is so important!

    Stephen,
    Thanks! Hopping over to your blog!

    Lynn,
    You are welcome. Hope you have a bit of time to write soon. :)

    Lydia,
    Yes, I like that! And repeating of course is key.

    Catherine,
    Good to meet you, and thanks for commenting and becoming a follower. Will scoot over to see your blog.

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  31. I've joined a writer's group and feel like I'm on my way. :O)

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  32. Anne,
    Thank you! I agree, knowing your peers is important, and meeting them is not only fun but so helpful.

    Shannon,
    Thanks, I appreciate your vote of confidence:)

    Diane,
    Yay! Sounds great. Let me know how it goes, okay?

    Blessings all,
    Karen :)

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  33. Excellent advice. I need to do a couple of these things as well. Between what you and what the commmenters have said I can't think of anything to add.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  34. Thanks, for this post. I would say, read a lot, Write lots and lots and get feedback from crit partners or writing friends and try and read few writing craft books.

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  35. Lee,
    Thank you. Me too. Have been thinking of taking a class; perhaps in 2011!

    Rachna,
    You are welcome. Good advice. We are always finding new things to learn, aren't we? :)

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  36. Karen, thank you for sharing your experience and expertise with the newbies. :) You are a blessing.

    You're in my thoughts and prayers, my friend.

    Waving and grinning at one of my favorite blogging friends,

    Rhonda

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  37. This is an excellent list. The best advice I receieved was to attend a conference--that changed my life and my writing career forever.

    I pray a lot, too. It helps me keep my little self in perspective.

    LOve
    Jen

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  38. Hi, Karen! Great advice. I love the reminder to "keep learning." That's what I'm doing as I wait for feedback/an answer on a submission. No matter what happens, we must keep trying and keep learning.

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  39. Great response, Karen. I'd say the only thing you might have missed is, "Don't get discouraged. Believe in yourself and be sure to give yourself credit."

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  40. Rhonda,
    Thanks so much, sweet friend:) I'd have to say you fall into the blessing category as well.

    Jeanette,
    How could I forget that? Yes, praying is a must! Thanks, friend!

    Heather,
    I know, and the waiting, especially, can be a challenge. But if we encourage each other to hang in there, it is a little easier!

    Victoria,
    Yes, you are right. Thanks! I think this is helped along by connecting with other writers, too. The encouraging kind, of course:)

    Blessings all,
    Karen

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  41. Great list! I agree with it all. I would add, don't be afraid of feedback--I think every beginner writer fears critiques.

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  42. Karen:
    Did I see "networking" as a suggestion?
    Experts in other fields say it helps to have a relationship with other likeminded individuals.

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  43. Jill,
    Thank you:) That's a good thing to remember. It can be hard to put yourself out there.

    Cecelia,
    Good point there too. This is always a good move!

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  44. Hi Karen .. thanks - some useful advice here with excellent links - always helpful to us all ..

    Sorry about the roses - perhaps this weekend? If you're not snowed in .. we may well be again .. but nothing like the North of England .. cheers Hilary

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  45. Karen, as always, you are so kind to start such a dialog. I agree with quietspirit that networking is a great thing to do. I've been writing my book for fifteen years (off and on) and during those years I've told many people... now that my book is coming out, those people are waiting to read the book.

    Another reason for networking, is because it always helps to know someone who knows someone in the publishing world. And the other end of networking is also important... if you know someone who is looking for an editor, and and you also know an editor looking for work, it doesn't take much to connect those two people in the digital age. As in all aspects of life, you get what you give.

    To this end, Karen, I'd say you have a lot of good coming your way... your kindness comes through in everything you post.

    Blessings to you,
    Saloma

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  46. Hilary,
    You are welcome. Thank you for the optimism about the roses. :) Hope you stay warm and don't get too snowed in!

    Saloma,
    You are sweet, thanks so much. Your points are good ones to note. So much helpful advice from everyone!

    Happy weekend,
    Karen

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  47. Karen, I think this is a great blog! Excellent advice. Of all "tools" I have in my "tool-box" I think the one I have read and re-read is the book by Stephen King, "On Writing". One of his comments was about pounding a nail in the wall above his computer to hang rejections, and he had to remove the nail and drive a spike into the wall, because there were so many.
    Hugs my friend
    Katt

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  48. Kathryn, have you seen Stephen King's video? Karen, if people should ask, you should email them this link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqp7A0B7abc&feature=related

    Stephen gives some great advice!

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  49. Karen, read and read some more. But everyone has their own pathway to publication. There are some basics that we HAVE to do and you really explained it well.

    I agree that Stephen King has some great advice. There is no exact here. So it's hard to answer that question, isn't it? We can just tell people what worked for us. (When that day comes, of course.) Merry Christmas, my friend. I wish that all your wishes come true.

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  50. Katt,
    Thank you:) I've heard good things about that book, will have to check it out!

    Cecelia,
    Thanks for the link. Sounds like something I need to see! :)

    Robyn,
    Thanks, friend! :) I agree, it can be different for everyone and what works for some may not work for others.

    Blessings all,
    Karen

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Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!