Paying Your Dues as an Author

Maybe it's too easy to become a published author these days.

By paying your dues, I mean first reading the kind of books you think you want to write.

Going to writer's conferences so you can glean from the wisdom of writers who are already published.

Reading books about the different aspects of writing. Learning what works and what doesn't.

When I was first trying to get published, I found out about all the different kind of publishers--way back then there weren't so many. I bought the Writers' Digest Market book and read about each and everyone, what kind of book they published, how they wanted manuscripts or queries to be submitted. Now you can find all kinds of publishers on line--but it's still necessary to find out what they publish and how they want to be contacted.

Joining an honest critique group--one that will point out mistakes and make helpful suggestions. I've belonged to the same critique group for over 30 years. I think of these other authors as my first editors.

Buying other authors' books so you can find out something about how and what they write--and then finding out about their publisher.

Planning how you will market you book. Pay attention to what others are doing and pick out which ideas would work best for you. Begin collecting emails of people who might be interested in your work when it is published.

Most publishers want to know upfront how you plan to market your book.

Most of all you must write the best book you possibly can and when you are through, have someone edit it who knows about editing.

Decide who you are going to send it to whether agents or publishers. Have a list of potentials and once you send queries out, get started on your next book.

Except for few and far between flukes, it takes a lot of work to become a published author. In many cases, it may take years. If you really want to be a writer, then you'll keep paying your dues.



Monti said…
Very true, Marilyn! I used to go to the RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference every year. I met dozens of outstanding published writers and learned a lot, but so much was about following a formula. I don't want to write to a formula and never have. For me that can ruin the writer's creativity. But learning to write to the formula and following the work of those who do is a good way to get published especially if you are persistent.

Mary Montague Sikes

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