My Path to Publication – there is more than one way to reach that goal

My first book is being released in October 2017 – a full eighteen months after the contract was signed. I thought about all the different workshops/paths I have attended and followed with the sole goal of finding and acquiring an agent. Conventional wisdom was that without an agent, a writer would never get published unless they self-published. In the mad dash to attract an agent, some things got overlooked (at least by me). Perhaps people had mentioned them all along, but I didn’t hear their message because my eye was on the end prize – an agent. Since then, my ideas and focus have changed a bit. This is my path – and I hope it shows that there are other alternatives/ways to publication success.

First – Take writing classes and pay attention to craft. You probably won’t get published if your writing is not up to the mark. Exchanging positive and supportive writing critiques links you into the writing community and makes you a valued contributor.

Second – Take advantage of opportunities as they arise – and they WILL arise. Enter writing contests. Success here means that you will acquire important writing credits which can be listed in query letters to agents.  Writing credits provide some “street cred” which helps attract the right attention.

Third – Writers Conferences. These cost money but provide a lot of information regarding the business of writing and publishing, as well as craft seminars.  Most have pitch sessions with editors and agents where you might just connect. Meeting an agent or editor at a writer’s conference increases your attractiveness. Make sure when you are submitting your requested materials to one of those you have met – that you put the conference name in your email subject line. It allows you to stand out from the people who actually know nothing about the business of writing.

Fourth – Research the marketplace for smaller presses. If a company is publishing comparable books to what you are working on or have finished, they might be interested in yours! Many take unsolicited and unrepresented manuscripts.

Fifth – Make sure your project is really DONE done, before you start shopping it around. This alleviates stress on your end. No, I did not take this advice initially, and got stressed out as requests started coming in.

My path?  All of the above. I entered a short story contest for Women Writing the West, and was a finalist! I was so excited! Although I didn’t win, the awards were being given during their Writer’s Conference, which happened to be local. Of course I signed up to go! There I met an agent (who did not end up representing me) but all of a sudden, I started becoming a person, and not just a random name. I pitched a book that wasn’t even finished yet to an acquiring editor. Now that book (The Beaten Territory) is being published by Five Star Publishing and is due out in October 2017. And I still don’t have an agent 🙂