PRACTCAL ADVISE FOR NOVICE WRITERS

Okay, here’s where I get to play coach. I’ve been given the opportunity to be didactic, pedantic, and if I’m clever, facetious. If Knute Rockne was a writer, here’s what he’d say about getting published and sharpening your work.

When you begin the process of selling your finished work, follow the accepted sequence. Start looking for representation by an accredited literary agent. Not an easy chore, but worth the effort. Should that fail, don’t take it personally. Rejections are part of a writer’s life.

If the agent search poops out, engage in some healthy catharsis. Go to a soundproof room or the middle of a national wilderness area and curse them out. Scream at the top of your lungs and get the anger out of your system. Call them megalomaniacal, self-styled power brokers, ineffectual, rude, unfeeling, egocentric, sluggards. Photocopy their facial likeness from their website, tack it to an unfinished garage wall or a wide tree trunk, and throw darts at him/her until the steam escapes from your ears and your blood pressure returns to 70 over 120. Then, fix your favorite seasonal alcoholic beverage, retreat to a comfortable chair and say, “Time for plan B.”

What’s that, you ask? Take the same copy of WRITER’S DIGEST where you found those miserable agent’s names and look for all the traditional publishers who will accept submissions directly from a writer and query them.

Still no luck? Look for eBook publishers. It’s a lot less expensive for a company to produce a book electronically than make an initial run of 2,500 hard copies. Getting published this way is no free ride, but these people seem to be more amenable to take a chance with a new, unproven author. And most eBook publishers may provide POD (print on demand) options should you want to market your book in paperback. Lastly, or maybe it’s your first choice, self-publish. But be careful choosing a company. Ask for war stories from those who have been there before you. Don’t get caught with a 1,000 prepaid copies of your book getting damp and smelly in your basement and a company that does nothing to assist you in promoting and marketing your books. If you don’t speak legalese, obtain help to read a contract.

No matter where your publishing journey ends, here’s the key—NEVER GIVE UP. If you believe in yourself and objectively think your novel is good enough to be read by others, one way or another you can see your manuscript in print. So, get out there and win one for the Gipper.

Now, here’s a little less inspirational (but still sound) suggestion on how to produce a world-class piece of work. When you think your story, novelette, novella, novel, or epic is finished, when you truly believe you’ve found and corrected all the typos and nits and it’s ready to sell, go back and read it aloud to yourself. Pretend you’re the star of your own audio book. Read it slowly and professionally as an actor would. Then, ask yourself, does it sound good? Do all the paragraphs smoothly transcend to the next? Does each sentence contain the right number of syllables? Does each word flow into the next without conflict? Does it have a pleasing rhythm? Basically, does it sing to you? For a guy who doesn’t dance very well, I have a great need for rhythm in my writing. If you notice any “bumps,” go back and rewrite it. Smooth everything out. If something bothers you now, it will annoy the dickens out of you in the future and someone else will probably notice it, too.

With that accomplished, you’re finished, right? No. Now you’re ready to hand it off to an editor or proofreader—whomever you can afford. A second pair of eyes is essential for ANY writer.

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