Author Topic: Getting Published  (Read 3944 times)

JP Dogberry

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Getting Published
« on: May 25, 2004, 08:48:53 AM »
Ok, this may sound very n00bish from me (hopefully not) but it is quite relevent I think.

This question is basically addressed to those on the board who are in fact published.

What path does one take to getting from being an amateur writer to having multiple published books? Especially if, hypothetically spekaing of course, one was an 18 year old amateur speculative fiction writer just starting to get serious about it and trying to get in the habit of writing every day?
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Spriggan

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2004, 09:05:23 AM »
Well I'm not published but I DO know EUOL's method.  Which is simply put:  have a mother who thinks you're wasteing your life as and English major  and that he only hope of a successfull child (read: Getting married) is her teenage daughter.  Then strive for several years writeing and getting published just to see the look on her face as all the sudden you become her "favorite" child.
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JP Dogberry

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2004, 09:13:02 AM »
That doesn't help me so much as knowing what to write and who to show it to.
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Spriggan

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2004, 09:20:51 AM »
Na it was modivational advice.

As what to write, do what you like.  It's very rare for people to sell their first book that you actualy write and finsish.  So if you want to get into the habbit then that's what I'd recomned.  I'm sure EUOL, SE and Mustard can give you better advice but mines just simplely "Write what you'd want to read".  Of course learing how to present it in a way other would want to read is a whole nother story.
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EUOL

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2004, 09:30:56 AM »
Lol.  That's a big question, JP, but not an uncommonly asked one.  However, without going TOO long, here are a few pointers.

1) You've got the right idea.  You have to write consistently.  When I started out, I was told by someone (don't even remember who...) that your first five books are generally terrible.  Now, I don't necessarily believe this is true.  However, every author I've known who's finished two books has found that the FIRST one, at least, was terrible.  (Back me up here, Fell, HoM.)

The first book is often something of a train wreck.  It usually has good ideas, but when you start, you have no concept of pacing.  The book will wander, and its feel/plot will get warped and bent out of shape as your writing ability improves dramatically--which it will, if you're writing every day and plugging away at that first book.

So, my first--and most important--piece of advice is to get that first book out of your system.  Don't worry if it isn't progressing how you want, just get it written!  You can always come back and fix it.  My first book, WHITE SAND, was absolutely horrible.  However, I rewrote it as my eighth book, and that time it was pretty good.  (This is the version people on this forum have read.)

2) You don't need to worry about marketing yourself until you've written that first book, and preferably your second as well.  HoM's first sale was his second book, I believe.

Once you have that first book, it's time to start attending cons and making connections.  It took me four years of con-attending to finally make a sale.  However, you need to start going early because you'll need to build your professional and networking skills, as well as give yourself time to get comfortable at the cons.

3) Make certain you're well-read in the genre.  This should be a no-brainer, but I've seen most authors include it in their 'how do I get published?' FAQs.  If you don't know what SF/F is doing, you won't be able to market yourself very well.

4) Learn to understand your writing style.  Identify what you do well, and focus your books around it.  Identify what you do poorly, and don't focus your books around it (but try and work on it and improve at it.)
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The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2004, 09:59:08 AM »
Submit. A lot.

No seriously. Submit everything you think is remotely worth reading.

Some writers will recommend starting with short stories. And that can be a good way in. Get three or four good stories published in magazine, and you can put that in your cover letter when you send in novel manuscripts. It like a CV, people look for experience. If you've been published before, they're more likely to give it a serious look.

Other tactics: go to cons. Not gaming cons. Fantasy/Science Fiction cons. But DON'T DRESS IN COSTUME. Dress nice. Even a tie. Talk to the publishers and editors instead of slobbering over at Gabe and Tycho's booth. Find out what sorts of stories they're looking for.  Find a publisher/editor who's looking for the subgenre you have a manuscript for. Show it to him or promise to send it to him. Then follow up. Even if you don't have something ready to submit then, you'll know what people want to publish, and you'll be making contacts, networking.

Find out what people like. Read the successful books (this is where EUOL is right and I am, at least in practice, wrong. Wheel of Time is very successful, and it bears reading to find out what people like about it). Read the SFWA winners. Find out what people are publishing, and therefore what readers (your ultimate income source) are reading.

Stick with a writing style that is easily read. Most people don't enjoy reading present tense or second person. Things like that.

The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2004, 10:00:43 AM »
oh, and it goes without saying, if you're submitting a lot, you have to be writing a lot. That's a key thing people overlook. A writer writes. Always.

Lieutenant Kije

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2004, 11:39:40 AM »
Dang it.  I've been trying the "a writer sits on his arse" principle.  Probably time for a change.

The Holy Saint, Grand High Poobah, Master of Monkeys, Ehlers

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2004, 11:57:28 AM »
well, you CAN do that. You just have to write at the same time.

House of Mustard

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2004, 12:15:27 PM »
I don't know how applicable a lot of my advice is, since I am publishing in a non-mainstream market.  The LDS market is an entirely different ball of wax than the national, so there are some subjects I am thoroughly unfmailiar with (such as agents, etc.).

Still, the biggest piece of advice I could give is the same that EUOL began with: Write.  Write all the time.  I'm nowhere near as prolific as EUOL, but I've got five books under my belt (and I've only been writing for three years).  (And yes, my first books was a blight upon humanity.) The key is to write as often as possible.  If you have a serious goal of writing as a career, you need to view your writing as work: set daily goals, set time to write, avoid distractions, set deadlines, etc.  This has been doubly important for me, simply because I haven't been trained in writing (no English degree here), and I had to learn mostly through trial and error.

Ray Bradbury once said: “I believe that eventually quantity will make up for quality.
How so?
Michelangelo’s, da Vinci’s, Tintoretto’s billion sketches, the quantitative, prepared them for the qualitative, single sketches further down the line, single portraits, single landscapes, of incredible control and beauty.
Quantity gives experience.  From experience alone can come quality.”
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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2004, 08:32:40 PM »
Quote
This has been doubly important for me, simply because I haven't been trained in writing (no English degree here), and I had to learn mostly through trial and error.


I don't think the standard English degree prepares you for novel writing. Mostly because the standard English student procrastinate her papers until the last minute, thereby leaving only enough time to write, not write well.

However, now that I think about it, she does learn to write for an audience. ("If I express this opinion, I will get an A, but if I express that opinion, or beat that old horse to death, I'll probably get a C.") And sometimes it helps to be able to just spit the writting on the keyboard, rather than agonizing over every sentence.
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Peter Ahlstrom

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2004, 02:59:27 AM »
David Brin told me to get a degree in BUT English if I wanted to be a writer.

He also said to wander around and knock on a new door once a month, introduce myself and find out what they do there.

Did the first, but never actually got around to the second. And I'm an editor nowadays anyway... (Finally working! Yay!)
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Spriggan

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2004, 03:06:16 AM »
With TokyoPop Ookla?
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Peter Ahlstrom

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2004, 02:47:16 PM »
Yeah. I'm doing copyediting.
All Saiyuki fans should check out Dazzle! Emotionally wrenching action-adventure and quirky humor! (At least read chapter 6 and tell me if you're not hooked.) Volume 10 out now!

Spriggan

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Re: Getting Published
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2004, 03:00:39 PM »
Omedito!

Hopefuly you'll beable to move up in the ranks and start makeing TP buying good lincenses.
Screw it, I'm buying crayons and paper. I can imagineer my own adventures! Wheeee!

Chuck Norris is the reason Waldo is hiding.