Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Junk Culture: Getting Your * Published - Intro

I get a ton of questions about publishing. And I'm hardly an expert, but you people pushed me to this. It seems that whenever someone learns that my novel is being published (and honestly, I don't wear a sign around my neck or carry a banner announcing it) they say, "Oh, I wrote a novel once" or "I'm thinking of doing that" or "My grandma's life would make a great book." The follow up, most often than not, is: "So, how do you do it? Do you mail your idea to a publisher and then get some money?"

Its tough breaking the news to people that getting a book published -- particularly fiction -- is really, really freakin' difficult and getting harder all the time. Fact is, you can't mail an idea to a publisher and expect anything other than your mail going in the trash. I'm not going to talk about non-fiction (that's a different beast and no, you can't mail in an idea there either) but for fiction, you need more than an idea. In fact, you need about 60,000 words more. You need an actual novel. Not part of a novel, not 80% of a novel but a whole novel. And that novel needs to be not only spellchecked but proofread like a forty-five times. No kidding.

Next you need an agent and no, you can't buy one or "hire" one in any traditional sense. "But it must be pretty easy getting an agent, right?" Wrong, bucko. It's the hardest part of this whole crazy scheme. I read a while back (and I've been at this for a good five years) that only 2% (yes, that's two percent) of writers get agents. Of those who get an agent, 50% are published. You can do the math there. The worst...I'm getting ahead of myself here... And as I type this out I can see it's going to take a whole hellovalot of space than a simple entry.

Here's the quick rundown of how you get your novel published, I'll expand on these in the coming weeks.

1) Demons and a reason to write
2) Write for the market but not really
3) Don't buy any books about publishing
4) Don't take any classes and don't go to workshops
5) Write a query and don't mail jack
6) Sign with an agent who gets your work
7) A word of advice on agents: mum
8) Keep writing and don't stop
9) Learning the lay of the editorial land
10) The final step is never final

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