Thursday, December 8, 2016

Make the Most of Your Opportunities

After attempting to write novels for several years, and collecting heaps of rejection letters, I was fortunate to enter an international short story contest and win first place. That gave my confidence a badly-needed boost.
I got my “professional” start by sending short stories to anthologies and magazines. One perceptive editor told me on two separate occasions that my short stories sounded as though they should be novels. I thanked her at a recent writer’s conference where she was one of the featured guests. Now the shortest project I work on is a novella at about 30,000 words. I prefer the longer lengths.
One of my many short stories was “almost chosen” for an anthology. The tale made the second-to-last cut for the collection. However, that editor liked my writing and asked me to submit for her next project. That story was accepted. When I met my current publisher, I could at least point to something in print and the fact that I’d help launch an anthology in my hometown bookstore. It was number one in local sales that week.
I belonged to an active writer’s workshop, attended seminars and conferences, and took every opportunity to appear before publishers and agents in person. Be prepared for the unexpected question. Have your novel proposal down pat so you can tell the story in a few short sentences. Surviving a face-to-face with a book publisher who didn’t follow the meeting rules got my first novels published.
My friends said, that’s exciting! How long did it take you to get published? Was it instant success? I told them the correct answer was something less than forty years, but more than thirty.
New and aspiring writers often ask how they can get noticed by publishers.
My advice is to write often, and always submit your work. No sense in letting your manuscripts wither away in a desk drawer. If you don’t send them out I can almost guarantee you will never be noticed. When your submission is rejected, and it probably will be, at least in the beginning, read any comments or suggestions for improvement, and send it out again. Referring to short stories, I read advice once that said to write one submission a week and send it out. If the manuscript comes back, send it out again. After two years of this hard work you will either be published, or at the very least, a much better writer.
The bottom line is you are guaranteed never to be published if you don’t write or submit anything. So get busy now!
The Dark Lady Trilogy (Volume 1,2,3)
The Queen’s Pawn (Volume 1,2,3)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volume 1 to 7)
Alex in Wanderland,
Knight’s Bridge
We’re Not in Kansas
Toltec Dawn (Book 1 of 3)


Unknown said...

Ron, you are so right. I talk to so many people with manuscripts moldering away in a closet or under the bed because "I just don't know if it's good enough". Well, brother, there's only one way to find out. Put on your thick-skin suit and float that puppy out there in the light of day. If no one ever sees it, then it absolutely isn't good enough. That first rejection notice may be crushing, but do you know what it tells you? It says "you had the dedication to actually plop your butt down in a chair and write something, and THEN you had the guts to show it to a professional, either agent or editor and allow them to evaluate it". You may not like that evaluation, especially if it's a 'no', but the only way to get to 'yes' is through a minefield of 'no's'. And the only way to do that is the send your baby out into the world. And when it doesn't achieve instant success, decide that you are going to spend the time to make it better, and do it all over again. Rinse and repeat as needed. There's nothing like pig-headed persnickety persistence. That is all...