Thursday, May 04, 2017

Stages of Writing

There are stages every writer goes through while on their way to being published. Here is a brief list and what to expect.

Believe – Believe in your abilities as a writer
Perfect – Take classes and workshops – read what you write
Network – get involved in writing organizations – online chats
Submit – find the right agent, editor, market
Publish - (for self-Publishing) - this is the stage where you make your work shine
Publish – Now what
Promote – Put you and your work out there
Never Forget – who helped you along the way and give back

Believe – Believe in your ability to write a poem, tell a story, or depict events. If you don’t believe in yourself no on else is going to believe. Be convincing when you say you are a writer. You may not be published, but if you are writing anything other than grocery and to-do lists, you are a writer. Be it poems, lyrics, essays, short stories, novels( fiction or non-fiction), memoirs, or biographies – you are a writer.

Perfect - Take classes, learn all you can about your craft and the area you are writing. Subscribe to the Writer’s Digest, or any magazine in your area of writing. If you join Romance Writers of America you'll get the Romance Writers Report. Subscribe to the Romantic Times or Publisher Weekly magazines to not only learn about different aspects of writing, but to also keep abreast of the markets, see what others are writing. Along with learning to write, you need to read. Read the genre you write. See what others are doing and how they do it. If you google a genre and your area or just writing conferences in general, I'm sure some kind of conference that has workshops on craft will come up. Look for Writers Guilds in your area. They usually have speakers at meetings and will hold Saturday workshops on craft. These conferences have workshops given by authors, editors, and agents. This is where you learn craft and work on the next stage. Networking. There is also the Colorado Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference, the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Willamette Writers, Western Writers of America, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Not to mention the Romance Writers of America. These are all good organizations to become familiar with even if you don’t join. They are the people who know the people you need to know if you are working at getting a novel published.

If you are a freelance writer wanting to break into the magazine market, you need to read the magazines you are interested in writing for and learn what style and stories they like. Other freelance writers attend your multi genre events such as the PNWA and WW. 

Networking –Networking is something you do all the time as a writer. You network with other writers, finding critique partners, talking to people about editors, agents, learning the ins and outs of the self-publishing world, helping at conferences, or becoming an officer or board member in a writing group. Attending conferences is a good way to network with other writers, editors, and agents. If you help at the conferences it also gets your name out in front of a lot of people. Part of networking is learning where your writing fits and connecting to people within that area. The other part of networking is visiting with people, letting them know you are a writer or author. If you have a published piece tell people and listen for places where you could read, do a signing, or even sell your book. And you never know when you will also come across a person who will spark a great idea for a story or book. It is through my networking I first was asked to submit my work to The Wild Rose Press.And it was networking that gave me the push to try self-publishing. Again if you are writing freelance articles, it never hurts to let people know. They may contact you with an interesting subject or someone who you spoke to comments about your work to a person who is looking for that subject. Networking is important not only for getting your work noticed, but also for learning where to send it and even getting ideas for stories.

Submit (if going traditional publishing)– Once you believe in your writing, have perfected your craft, and have networked and know where you need to submit your work- you submit. But first you have gone to either the agent or editor’s website or magazine submission guidelines and found out how they like to be queried or you’ve looked this information up in the Writer’s Market place, Writer’s Digest, RWA site, or wherever you have found the information. Remember you put your best foot forward by submitting either a query or partial the way the editor or agent wants it, not the way you want to send it. If they ask only for a query letter, you keep it to the point. What your book is about, who you are, and what qualifies you to write on this subject, and thank them for considering your book or article. If they request a partial or full, send a cover letter, again be brief, what the story is about, why you wrote it or were qualified to write it and again thank them for considering your work. Unless a house says they do not take simultaneous submissions, you may send out to more than one place at a time, but do make sure that somewhere you state it is a simultaneous submission. And if someone does buy it, you follow up with a letter to the other people letting them know it was picked up.

Rejection letters are a given in this business. If you don’t have a tough skin you won’t make it as a writer. I threw away a file this thick a couple years ago and have another one this thick now. Rejection letters can’t be taken to heart. It may be your subject isn’t what they are looking for or they just bought a book or story close to yours. It’s hard to take a photocopied rejection that you know was sent to thousands of other writers, but the one that says, loved it, but- That’s a keeper. That means what I stated earlier. Either they just bought something that was similar or they don’t have slot to fill it with- which is why I like Ebook. They don’t have to worry about shelf space and they will purchase similar books simultaneously.

Publish - (for self-publishing)If you've decided to go the self-publishing route, you need to find a cover designer, have your work read by critique partners or beta readers or both. Have the book edited by an editor or someone you know will do the right job. While the book is with the editor, you need to write a back cover blurb, discover your keywords, decide if you will format for ebook and print or source it out. learn how to upload to the ebook vendors and Createspace or Ingrams. Purchase ISBN number or decide if you want to use the free ones from the vendors. When the book comes back edited and you've made another run or two through it. You will either send it out to be formatted to format it yourself  and upload.  

Publish – You get the call! The editor loved your book and they want to publish it. If you don’t have an agent to help you through the contract (if it is for a book) you might want to get help from a lawyer who knows literary contracts. If you have sold a short story, or an e-book the contracts are pretty cut and dry and you don’t need any mediator to complete the transaction. With a book, you will get your manuscript back with the editor’s comments, they will give you a certain length of time to get it revised and you will send it back. Then they will send it to you in a galley. This is the last time you get to make any changes. Then it goes to print when it is scheduled. Usually if you are with an e-book/print publisher, the e-book will be out 6 months to a year before the print version.

Magazines can be up to a year or better.

Promote- You believed in your abilities, you perfected, you networked, submitted, and now you havea published book. Unless you are with a large NY publishing house and they paid monstrous dollars for your book, you are on your own to promote your work. If you can get on a local TV station talk show to promote an upcoming book signing or reading that’s good, as well as contacting your local bookstore and arranging a book signing, or if you purchase books at the author’s discount you can set up book signings anywhere an establishment will let you. another author and I had a couple signings at a wine store, I've also been with a group of authors at a chocolate store, and I set up at the Sumpter Flea Market once a year. If you do have an event coming up, send PR to the local paper and always have your promotional packet up to date to send to the establishment where you are having the event. Try to set up book signings or readings in the area where you live, where you grew up, and where the story takes place. If you have an e-book - joining online readers and writers groups is a way to promote. They have chats with authors and highlight specific authors on specific days. Always be looking for an opportunity to promote your book. Another form of promotion are blogs and websites.
I also purchase or make items to hand out at book signings and to send to conferences when they are looking for promo items for goodie bags to be given away at conferences. I am always on the look out for little things I can tuck into envelopes and send out as prizes. When I do online chats I hold a contest and give away an ebook I’m promoting. You have to have people read your work to build a readership.

Never Forget- Never forget the people and organizations who helped you get where you are. Give back by talking at a meeting, giving a workshop at a conference, and telling others who helped you along your way. Remember those who helped you perfect, network, submit, publish, and promote - you didn’t get there alone.


Stephanie said...

I love the never forget part. So many people have helped and continue to help me. Thanks, Paty.

Paty Jager said...

Thanks Steph. There have been so many who have helped me along the way, I could never pay them all back but I keep trying.

Diana McCollum said...

Very informative blog post! Paying back is an important thing to remember as we follow our path to publication. I know for a fact that you Paty, are always giving back. Kudos to you and your career!