Essay Non-Fiction posted December 12, 2014

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So...You Want to get Published

by Spiritual Echo

Even though I have decades of marketing and sales experience, I am probably the worst person to give writers advice about getting their work published--but I'm going to.

If someone has a product that has value, no matter how good it is, somebody has to haul it out of the warehouse and go show a customer. The adage, 'build a better mousetrap and they will come,' is not relevant in today's world. Customers will settle for second best if they don't know there's something better out there.

Like many writers, I bury myself in words, enjoying and losing myself in stories and characters I create. I know many fiction junkies that consume novels, reading voraciously, but who don't know how I can sit at a keyboard and write for extended periods of time. Extended? Yeah, I pulled an all-nighter recently, spending thirty hours straight writing a story.

I explain the compulsion of writing in a way they understand. It's exactly the same as getting lost in a novel except in reverse, and it takes a hell of a lot longer to write than read.

Without a doubt, this writing community has fed my compulsion and gives me a home where I can post my stories and get validation for the investment of time. Though I've taken many courses--some very expensive courses in writing--I've honed my skills on this site more than anywhere else because of the generous feedback of other writers.

There comes a point when every writer needs to put their mousetrap out there, and that means ignoring some contests and prompts and taking a hard look at one's portfolio. Ask what it would mean to be published. For every wanna-be-seen-in-print, there is a different reason and there is no right answer. Waiting to be discovered on this site is a remote, if not completely wasted pipe dream.

And though it may seem shocking, it's easier to be published than one might think. Without being able to conjure up the statistics, I was recently told that a huge number of books on the New York Times best seller list, started or continue to be self-published. That's a pretty staggering thought for those of us who spent our formative years dreaming about being in Random House's stable. Traditional publishing is losing its glamour and it certainly has lost its monopoly on bringing books to market.

That fact of life has led to a secondary marketing opportunity for individuals who have taken the time to research the process of self-publishing and are now offering EVERY author the chance to be published and give their friends a book they've written as a Christmas gift. But beware, these 'self-publishing' companies charge thousands of dollars for kits and ultimately it's a self-help manual they are selling. They'll do the work and put a physical book in your hands, but you, dear writer, will be responsible for the marketing and disposal of the inventory you will be forced to buy. And by-the-way, they won't correct your SPAG unless you pay an editing charge, usually around three to five cents a word.

The above is a warning, because the information is available free if a writer can lay his pen aside and spend time and effort on research. And before I even consider submitting my book to a traditional publisher that is exactly what I plan to do to bring my book to market next year.

Even I didn't think of myself as a novelist, spending my time writing stories as my bulging portfolio will attest, but there are so many E-Zines that are looking for product and many pay, though the fees are nominal. On our own site, a member, N.K.Wagner, publishes a weekly showcase for fiction under the name Page and Spine. It is where my novel is currently running--and I'm being paid, while still retaining my publishing rights.

Most people know about Writer' Digest and their yearly--massive--directory. It prints the names of publishers, gives advice and examples of cover letters and guidance to writers who want a home for their work.

Two on-line subscriptions I receive weekly are 'Duotrope' and 'Author's Publishing Magazine.' Both these periodicals list publishers accepting submissions.

I recently discovered a site that counts syllables--just type in 'haiku syllable count' and you will be able to assess whether your poetry qualifies under prompt guidelines.

There are lots of opportunity and help on the net if a writer wants to devote some research time instead of simply floating on words.

And as I said at the beginning, I know all this, but would rather write than seek stardom, but there's no reason you can't--if you're serious about getting published. It's part of my New Year's list of resolutions--I'm going to get serious.

Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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