Storyfix is proud to present award-winning author Mike Angley, whose guest post today fits in nicely with our current theme on getting your bad self published. You are invited to visit his website here.
Patience, Persistence, Perfection
A Guest Post by Mike Angley
These are the three “Ps” necessary to get to the “big P”… published! They represent the simplest advice I can offer aspiring writers when approaching the literary world. I learned it the proverbial hard way, but it paid off with a successful three-book contract. Before tackling the three Ps in detail, it’s important that an author have a solid appreciation of the business nature of the publishing industry.
Many new authors approach writing with huge amounts of passion and a sheer love of the art itself. That’s a wonderful and necessary thing, and it should never be downplayed or forgotten during a writing career. But passion and craft alone won’t necessarily result in a book contract. The writing world is a business.
Publishers make money when they sell books, and they seek authors who hold the promise of writing books they can sell. Lots of books!
The population of aspiring writers outnumbers publishing opportunities by a factor of thousands. If the writer is the “seller,” and the publisher is the “buyer,” then it is a buyer’s market…always has been, and always will be. Competition is keen, and publishers hold all the cards. Your job as a writer trying to sell your manuscript, is to understand how the industry works, what trends are “hot,” and how to approach an agent or publisher with a business frame of mind.
Read all you can about the industry and how to prepare a query letter before you approach an agent or publisher. Each will have different requirements, styles, and formats that are preferred. Follow these instructions to the letter! There are some great “agent hunting guides” out there, too many to mention, but they all have this one common thread: submit a query the way the agent or publisher wants it. If you use these guides, by all means visit the agent or publisher’s website before you submit a query to see if the guidelines have changed. The market is fluid, and oftentimes requirements have changed after the physical guidebook was published. An expertly-crafted query that follows current guidelines, will at least give you a chance to be considered. One that does not follow current requirements, will never get a second glance.
Once you understand the business reality of the publishing industry, and know how to craft the perfect query letter or submission package, it’s time to follow the three “Ps.”
Patience. It takes time to go from finished manuscript to a signed contract. It may take months, or even years in some cases. In between there will be rejection letters. Many of them! Don’t take this personally – remember, it is a business. Keep plugging along with more queries while constantly sharpening your approach each time. Don’t give up! When you become a New York Times bestselling author, you will have earned the right to gloat…it will be worth the wait!
Persistence. Just like having an abundance of patience, you must also be persistent! If by some lucky chance an agent or publisher gives you specific advice – FOLLOW IT! First of all, it means you got their attention long enough to consider what you submitted. In fishing terms, it’s a nibble. It means you’re using the right bait in the right part of the lake, but perhaps your casting or reeling technique needs some improvement. But even without a nibble, keep fishing! Continue to study the market, network with published authors, attend writing conventions, and join writers groups. Learn from those who have been successful, and re-approach the process over and over again.
Perfection. Since the writing business is so competitive, striving for perfection is not an unreasonable goal. Keep refining your manuscript, query letters, submission packages, and so forth. Get a good critique partner who will give you honest advice and suggestions. Many authors use “beta reviewers,” people who read a manuscript well in advance of publication and who serve as honest brokers. If there’s something about your writing they don’t like, chances are an agent or editor won’t like it either.
Fix it. Spit polish it. Make it the best it can be…and hit the streets again to shop for an agent or publisher.