Yesterday I was asked what steps I’m taking to get published, which, of course got me thinking. What steps am I taking to get published? What are the steps to publication?
Well, I don’t think there are steps, as in do this and then this and then this. It’s more of a road to take, with bridges, hills and forks. Sometimes a tree will fall across the path, sometimes rain will turn it to mud and sometimes the sun shines brightly and the birds sing.
As with all things, you must start some where, take that first step down the path. This first step can be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. That step is scary for the path before you is unknown and even the end is uncertain. You have to ask yourself if this is truly what you want because take it from me as soon as you take that first step down the road there is no turning back.
The first step towards publication is decided to put yourself out of your comfort zone and expose your deepest self to the world at large. It’s not writing the novel or coming up with a great idea. Its finding yourself filled with awe and wonder at what out there and wanting to be part of it. It’s that unsettled feeling you get every morning that tells you that you need to do something more. It’s that little voice in the back of your head that screams out when ever you pick up a book, whispering to you that you can do better. Deciding to put yourself apart from the rest and risk your innermost desires to ridicule lets you lift your foot and step down the path to publication.
Once you’ve taken that step the next thing you need to think about is why. Why are you heading down this dark twisty road filled with loneliness and shifting shadows? The answer to this will dictate how you travel and what turns to take as you get to them. The why will shine a light on the darkest twists and fill you with the strength to keep going when the road turns to mush. Yes, you can move down to the path to publication with out a strongly defined why, but you’ll find yourself bogged down in mud, discouraged as challenge after challenge are thrown in your way and you might find your path blocked completely with no will left to keep going.
I can’t tell you what the why’s are, I can only say what my why is. I started down this road because I have to. I must share my writing with the world, I need to know that through my writing others can benefit and grow. To find out what your why is you need to look inside yourself. Be warned, however, that your why WILL be tested along the way. You’ll second guess yourself with every step you take, but if you hold that why close to your heart and know it is truth then you’ll find the courage to keep going. You’re why may also change along the way, growing stronger and more powerful until you no longer have to keep telling yourself it, it becomes a part of you.
Now you can take the longest part of the road, writing the novel. This is a post unto itself so I won’t get into the details here. As you near the end of this part, you’ll come across a fork. One way will take you down the path to traditional publication, the other points to self publication. I’ve chosen standard publication on my path, so I can’t tell you what all stand in your way if you picked the other side. And I’ve barely started down this road myself so I can only tell you what I’ve come across and what it still to come only in theory.
Almost as soon as I went down this way a new fork loomed before me. Do I get an agent to try it own my own. Well both ways showed me even darker paths filled with the unknown, I knew I could face what ever lay in front of me with an Agent at my side. So as my novel nears completion I went in search of the Agent best suited to my work. I’ll still looking but I have started the query’s yet. This is where you start networking, building your brand as they say and going to conferences. Its easier to land an Agent when a dialogue is already in place, though it can be done with out. And it’s about now that you start to see that the road isn’t deserted but crowded.
Find comfort in those who share your path. Reach out to them and they will help you through some of the hardest parts. Join a writers group either online or locally. Start a blog and share your journey. The writing community is unique is wonderful ways. Yes, we are all compete against each other, but we will not go out of our way to ruin another writers chance at getting published. We will bend over backwards to help each other become better and reach their goals.
Once you’ve gotten an Agent, they will walk with you the rest of the way towards publication. They will fight the biggest dragon, the publishing house, for you. But this does not mean the hard part has past. It’s just begun. The manuscript you’ve labored over for months and sometimes years will be torn apart with ruthless abandon. Every word you slaved over will be criticized and picked over, not once, not twice but many times. This is not because you’re not a good writer, this happens to help you become an even better writer. And if your why is strong enough, the outcome will always out shine the hardships you suffered along the way.
Where are you one the road to publication? What forks have you taken and what challenges have you faced?