They say the road to success is a rocky one and for me, at least, that proved to be true. In fact, not only can this rocky road seem gruelling at times, sometimes it can feel plain CLOSED.
So why am I writing this post? Well, after a long time of thinking the road to publishing success was closed, I just discovered it isn’t. I’ve just been offered representation for my Contemporary Young Adult novel. However, with the offer came the realisation that the road to publishing was never closed. I just hadn’t the experience, writing ability, or knowledge to find the right way through the road block.
I started writing at a young age and quickly progressed into writing novels. Very bad novels. Which I sent out to everyone I thought might want to publish a very bad novel. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t. However, at the time, I couldn’t understand why people didn’t want to read the novel I had slaved so hard over. In my mind, it was great.
Skip sixteen years to my now 31 year old self.
Have I really been writing sixteen years already? It seems so long and so short all at the same time. It has been a hard, rocky road, but I have learned. And learned. And learned.
The first thing that I learned is that you are always learning. Now, when I look back at my old books I actually cringe. Am I proud of them? Damn sure I am. Do I love them with all my heart? You betcha! Do I think they are worthy of publishing? Umm…not so much. But at the time, I was sure they were. I was positive they were ready to fly out into the world and gather readers of their very own. I cringe that there was so much I hadn’t learned. Query letter? What’s that? An elevator pitch? Why would I need one of those? A character arc? Umm… The list went on and on.
Over time, I’ve come to realise that only with experience can you gain perspective on your work. I’m sure in another sixteen years I’ll look back at the novel I’m writing now and see a hundred different ways to make it better. And that’s okay. Each book I have written has taught me something new.
And the same goes for the querying process. Value every positive piece of feedback you get, but don’t make it the holy grail. Your holy grail actually lies in the rejections you receive. Feedback from the publishing professionals will guide you into honing your work if you’re smart enough to look at the tidbits of advice that you’re given. Use them wisely!
Okay, okay, let’s get onto the good stuff. Without further ado, here are the best pieces of advice that I have learned in my sixteen years of writing and subbing. I still have so much to learn and so far to go, but I am thrilled to finally step one foot further along this rocky road we call Success.
1. Learn the writing rules. Know them inside out.
2. Break the writing rules. Know them, then choose to break rules for a reason.
3. Experiment. Remember, your writing is VISUAL so make sure you play around with your text and your writing style to see if you can add a new dimension to your work.
4. Read, read, read, read.
5. Read some more.
6. Enter contests. Read blogs. Go on social media. The connection to fellow writers cannot be underestimated. Build up your platform and network.
7. Make sure you have an elevator pitch for your query.
8. Less is more. Try not to over explain things in your book – let your reader fill in some of the gaps.
9. Be kind, open and giving to everyone in the industry that you meet. DON’T badmouth, DON’T argue about rejections with an editor/agent, DON’T look down on people who do things differently from you.
And most importantly:
10. Keep going. The only sure way to fail is to give up.
Tune in to the blog later in the week to find out just which agent I’ve signed with!
Right now, I’m as excited as the cow who jumped over the moon!