f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Establishing Your Career as a Writer: Part V

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Monday, March 20, 2006

Establishing Your Career as a Writer: Part V

Now that you have everything in place, go out and get a publisher to buy your manuscript.

Got that done? Good. Let’s move on.

Wait, what? You’d like me to spend a little more time here? Huh, imagine that.

There’s actually very little I can say. Trust me, if I had magic answers for guaranteeing you to get published I’d be selling my wares at every writer’s conference in the country. There’s one enormous problem, though, standing in between you and your published book.


Well, not just me, but me and all my colleagues in similar positions at publishing houses everywhere. Because I still have to read your manuscript and want to pursue it. Some hints for facilitating this, ranked in order of important of importance to me, personally as I look at projects.

1a. Catch me with your idea.
1b. Make your book good. A small point, but important.
2. Show me where it sits in the market.
3. Explain to me why it fits the vision of my publishing house.
4. Somehow prove you’re a normal human being who isn’t going to be a titanic pain and therefore not worth the trouble of publishing.

Obviously most authors get hung up on points 1a and 1b. Many folks either can’t express their ideas in a concise, exciting way (or are offering easy-to-understand but boring ideas) or can’t write the interesting ideas they propose.

Point 2 trips up some authors who want to publish in genres that aren’t working so well. I always feel guilty for rejecting these folks so at least you’ll have my pity.

Point 3 is a slippery one because you’re making educated guesses based on our recent releases and what you might hear from us at conferences. When a project gets tripped up here, it’s likely at least being discussed a lot. Maybe idealistic acquisitions editors are making impassioned speeches in hot conference rooms on its behalf. Small consolation, sure, when it gets the red light, but you’re getting close.

Point 4, well, just be normal and everything will be fine. Normal doesn’t mean a pushover or a pansy. It just means be “normal.”

On your end, you need to gauge whether a publishing house is going to get you closer to your “career” goal. In most circumstances, that’s going to be a no-brainer. Published is published. But especially if there’s a choice of publishers at your hand you’ll want to try and link with the publisher who seems most likely to help you succeed. Oh, to have such problems, right?


Continue to Part VI of Establishing Your Career as a Writer