I finished a book… what now…

Filed under Qs writer get asked… a lot…

On my facebook page the other day somebody asked me…(paraphrased…)

I’ve finished a book-what’s the next step in possibly getting it published?

And since I (and many, many other writers) get asked this sort of question, I’m going to past my response here:

That’s a hard question to answer, because there’s no easy answer.

There’s no straight out path to publication-it changes for everybody. If you’re looking for print publication, you can always try querying agents-check out agents who represe…nt writers in the genre you’re interested in. Look for their submission guidelines and make sure you FOLLOW them. Now I suck at offering query advice-I found both of my agents years after I’d been published and they both took me based mostly on my history and potential sales I already (or did) have in front of me-and in case of my current agent, she fell in love with the project I had-there wasn’t much of a query needed, thank God, because I’m lousy. But you need to understand that a good query for a new writer is vital, and you need to make sure you follow submision guidelines. Hang out at some industry blogs, good ones are http://blog.nathanbransford.com/ (former agent-go through his archives) or Lynn Viehl (http://pbackwriter.blogspot.com/ ) woman is my guru… troll their archives, see what you can learn from there.

You can hang at places like the water cooler on the absolute write forums (do a google).

But you need to be prepared to a lot of research, and start soaking up a lot of information before you do anything.

If you’re more into the idea of an epub, start checking out the epubs you’re interested in. I’ve got some info on my sites for what to watch out for with epubs, because some come and go FAST, and even those that have been around for a while aren’t always in the best interest of a writer. Just visit my blog @ https://shilohwalker.com/website and look in the archives for Thursday Tips, or do a search.

You can also think about joining RWA** or maybe just visiting the local area chapter blogs or that sort of thing. The more immersed you get into writing communities to soak up the knowledge about the industry, the easier it is to figure out what might be the next step. I don’t get much ‘writing’ knowledge from writing communities, nor do I want to-I write in my style and don’t want to alter that other than to improve it, but the industry knowledge I get from other writers is invaluable.

~end of that answer~

Adding to it…

There are other writing groups out there, but with RWA, you don’t have to be published.  A lot of the others require publication, so RWA can help grow an unpublished writer into a published writer.

The writing biz, before publication, and after, is a waiting game and a learning one.  My best advise, if you’re writing a book now, don’t wait until you’ve finished to start that learning game.  Hang out where writers talk online.  Those two blogs I posted up in earlier in this post, Lynn Viehl & Nathan Bransford, they can give invaluable advice.  There is already a lot of advice on their blogs if you go through their archives.  Absolute Write can be an interesting resource and you can ask questions there, but any time I read things there, I take it with a grain of salt because there are a LOT of people giving opinions and sometimes that will result in conflicting advice.

But don’t look for an easy answer, a straight answer or an easy solution.  There just isn’t one.  I’ve been writing since I was twelve.  I started submitting books when I was 19.  Stopped for a few years, started again a few years later.  I don’t have files full of rejections letters, but I’ve got my share.  You’re going to get rejections, from agents and from publishers.  It’s just part of the process.  You have to go through the process-and it makes your better.

If the agent or editor offers you insight on how to improve your book…listen. Don’t assume they don’t know what they are talking about-they are in that job because they do know what they are talking about.

If they offer you a form letter…don’t get pissed off.  If they offered everybody personalized responses, they wouldn’t have the time to stay open for submissions which means the next time you had a book, possibly even the book that might sell, maybe they won’t be able to take a look.

If that sounds like a cold, impersonal way to look at it…well, it is.  But this is business for them.  And if you want to be a writer?  You have to treat it as a business as well.  Once it leaves your hands, it’s a business.  You can wring your hands and worry and sweat over it in private all you want.

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