So you have a manuscript? Now publish it.

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This week in Literary Citizenship we’re talking about publishing.  The publishing world is like a giant game of Blackjack.  It’s really a game of luck, but you can increase your chances of winning with certain skills and know-how. 

Many editors have cashed-in on the secret to being published.  Styles vary, but the advice is consistent across the board. 

 

A Catchy Title and the Perfect Pitch

 

You’ll need both of these things not only to get published, but also to catch an agent.  Your pitch should consist the nuts and bolts of your story and why it should be published.  Something that is very important to the big publishers is money: is this book going to sell?  “Who is this book for?” and “Which bestsellers is it similar to?” are questions you need to be prepared for. 

 

Hit or Stay?

I’ve been reading Betsy Lerner’s book The Forest for the Trees, an invaluable resource for writers who want to be published.  In chapters nine and ten Lerner, a book editor, contrasts what editors want with what authors want.  There is a thickly drawn line as to whose opinion is more important in getting published, but what you as the author have to decide is what is more important to you: changing a major plotline to make them happy or keeping your integrity and moving on.

 

Doubling-Down

The publishing industry is a dog-eat-dog world, so it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into.  It’s important to know that getting published by one of the Big Six publishing houses (think Penguin) is next to impossible, but don’t fret there are other ways of getting your book published.  See Jane Friedman’s guide to getting published “Understand the Key Book Publishing Paths” (pictured). 

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Get out there!

There are many valuable resources when it comes to publishing that make it easier to get to know the industry and get your book out there.  See: Eckstutt and Sherry’s The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, Marek’s Editors on Editing, Lerner’s The Forest for the Trees, or one of the other handfuls of books out there on the subject.  The best advice I have heard, though, is networking.  In publishing it’s all about who you know, so get on Twitter, build a blog, sell short stories to magazines, do whatever it takes to get your name out there. 

 

Until next time,

Lindsay

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Introducing: Literary Citizenship!

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False Start

I started this blog last year with the grand vision in mind that I would write every week and it would be great and…no that didn’t happen.  I’m still struggling to find my zen, to find order in my chaotic world, and to reach a feeling of normalcy that may not even exist.  Built upon that struggle has long been a love for escapist literature and films, which as perhaps fostered my interest in writing fueled by an uncontainable imagination.  Cathy Day’s novel-writing class taught me about the art of craft, but her offering of an avant-garde class called “Literary Citizenship” piqued my interest.

Week Two of my final semester as a Ball State Cardinal I finally realize my role and responsibility as a member of the creative writing community.  The college experience has been daunting to me, so large and sublime, I haven’t known how to make myself a part of it.  Not because it wasn’t available to me or even because I didn’t know about it, but because I didn’t feel like a writer, that I had anything interesting to say that I could share with others.  The real turning point for me was in my ADHD diagnosis.  Finally, I knew what was wrong with me.  For some reason this validation gave me a little confidence to be myself and actually take advantage of the opportunities I’d been given in the BSU Creative Writing Community.

Literary Citizen

 In Cathy Day’s novel-writing class I realized that in order to be a better—at the very least better informed—writer, it would be crucial to immerse myself in what other writers are doing.  In joining the literary universe I am not only learning more about my field, but also making myself a literary citizen promoting the work of fellow writers so that they can be found and read—may karmic goodness rain down upon me. 

This week we read Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist.  Kleon puts writers at ease in an enjoyable read by bringing light to the truth that all art has some element of preexisiting art.  He lets us know that art really is in the eye of the beholder.  Stay tuned for my complete review of Steal Like an Artist.

Easy as 1, 2, 3.

One of the joys of modern technology is that it makes this task quite simple.  Social media is a crucial outlet in literary citizenship.  Follow me @lindsayagregg and the Ball State University Literary Citizenship campaign @litcitizen on Twitter to read about some great new authors and their works, as well as, some informative works about creative writing.

Until next time,

Lindsay