(Keep an eye on this girl. Great, great books to come.)
There’s lots of advice out there on the steps to get published. I have to admit, when I read them I can’t help but snicker. Yeah, sure, in a perfect world maybe you could write a book, query agents, land an agent, sub to publishers, sell and BAM! your book comes out in a bookstore.
It does work like that. It’s rare, but it happens. We all know someone that's happened to.
For the majority of us, we get stuck somewhere along that timeline. Sometimes for years… Sigh. *raises hand* I’ve been stuck between “land an agent” and “sub to publishers” for … oh, almost two years. :)
Guess what? I got past that hurdle.
There’s always going to be disappointment in this business. The trick is to use it to your advantage.
So what do you do when everyone around you is seeing success and you’re not?
Number one most important thing is to keep a good attitude. Sadness, depression, anger… these affect your writing. Either you can’t write or the writing is unintentionally angry.
And if you can’t stay optimistic – and I admit that I can’t! – get some friends who can be optimistic for you. There is nothing more important than having a cheering section!!!
Focus on your goals
All that energy that you’re using to get angry and/or cry (*raises hand again*), it’s more productive to use it to achieve your goal. Figure out what it is that you really want. That doesn’t mean “have a book in a bookstore.” Focus on something that is in your power to accomplish within the next three to six months.
Ask for help
I was shy about asking for help. I paid for that shyness for many years. Many. I could have been much farther along with my career if I had just stopped and asked someone to tell me what I was doing wrong.
I admire people who do ask for help. This is actually how I met Casey two years ago. She wanted to improve her writing and needed someone to bounce ideas off of. We clicked. Of course, now she outshines me!
Write another book
It may take 5… 7… 10 books to make it work. What I do know for absolute certainty is that you will never be published if you don’t keep trying.
Don’t put your eggs in one basket! If you’re subbing one book, you should be almost done with another. That way when you’ve completed your submission cycle you have another to pimp.
Key things to note:
Make sure the idea is BIGGER AND BETTER. Can you pitch your novel in one sentence? If not, go back and keep at it until you can… and then write it, not before!
Work on your craft. No one is a perfect writer. We all learn. Do not think you’re above learning.
Read! Read! Read!
Go to Conferences
Networking! I cannot stress enough how important networking is!
There are different conference stages depending on where you are in your career. In the beginning you’re there to learn. That morphs in to making friends with other authors (this is gold!). After that it becomes scoping out the agents/editors you want to work with.
You better believe that I have an opinion about whom I want to sub to. I can make that opinion because I’ve met/talked/hung out with the editors in question.
Rethink what you’re doing
Don’t bang your head against a wall! If you’re in a bad relationship would you just take it and never say anything? Never try to do anything different? No! You’d try to fix the problem. Why then do writers do the same things over and over again and expect different results?
For me, I was not understanding what my previous agent wanted. I don’t really think that was either of our faults. I’m sure she was trying to impart her wisdom to me and I was trying to learn it. Still, we broke up.
It was the best thing that ever happened to me. Okay, yeah, it didn’t feel that way at the time. It felt like I’d gotten a divorce and didn’t even get alimony payments let alone the bed, car, couch or the dog.
But then… I was open to accepting new representation. And I did. My current agent is Mark McVeigh – I’m only name dropping because I adore him. *gush* I wish everyone was as happy with their agents as I am.
You know what? I got it. He made sense to me.
Be proactive instead of reactive
Bottom line is this: You’re going to be disappointed. There are a million things you can’t control. Grab the ones you can! Do whatever it is you can to get ahead! Your biggest advocate is you.
Bio: Heather L. Hansen lives on a tropical island in the East China Sea. With two kids and a marine husband, she writes to keep her sanity. Heather writes young adult novels that are a little particular, always sassy, with just a touch of angst. And of course kissing! You can visit her for the daily dish at http://heatherhansen.blogspot.com