Saturday, April 27, 2013

Don't Say I Didn't Warn You...

I am fully aware of how lucky I am to have a publisher. I’m luckier than a… dang…as a writer, a simile here should be easier to write… But I digress…

As I have been promoting my upcoming work, I have also been thinking about the mistakes I’ve made along the way. And because I’ve never minded being the subject of a cautionary tale, I thought I’d share some of my bad choices if only to serve as a warning sign for future publishing travelers:

3. The End. Send.

“It’s finished,” I uttered in wonderment, staring at the blinking cursor as I typed The End at what I believed was the conclusion of my manuscript. “Well, time to start shopping it around! Now who is the lucky agent who gets to say yes first?”

12 rejections later… I realized my story may need some cleaning up.

One of the biggest newbie mistakes I made was that I finished my manuscript, and without the gut-wrenching editing process that I now understand is necessary, started querying. Yes, there are a lot of agents and publishers out there, but in the increasingly brutal publishing market, you don’t want to close any doors by sending out anything but your best work.   

2. Everyone wants what I’m selling. Wrong.

Much like the lone sausage vendor trying to sell his pork-laden products outside a vegetarian restaurant, not everyone is going to want what you’ve got. You have to know your market and write specifically for them. I spoke to a book promoter about what he could do to help me market and he talked about the thousands of websites to which he could email blast my synopsis. When I mentioned that my book might speak to a Christian audience, he said, “Oh, that’s great! Having some kind of target audience makes my job about 300-times easier.” Lesson learned: Even if you are handing out your hotdogs for free, if you aren’t targeting the right audience, no one’s gonna bite. Pun intended.

1. Not asking for help.

Please know I am typing this with the knowledge that scripture is scripture, and I have not written scripture. I believe that God inspires man to write when God needs something said. But, even though you may be writing something MUCH less important (and I do mean MUCH less), I believe our Father in Heaven wants us to develop our talents. I also believe He is willing to help us when we are doing something that is worthwhile. It never occurred to me to pray for help with writing since I wasn’t writing anything of a spiritual nature. I understand better now how happy it makes our Father when we develop the talents he gives us. When the work is clean and uplifting, anyone can ask for help. And help will come.    

So there they are folks! Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

I'm luckier than a cat with two scratching posts…Hmmm, yeah, I’ll keep working on that simile…