In the present age, there are hundreds of articles on how to get your novel published and these provide ample information for you to know or at least have a good idea of how to go about getting your work published.
However, in this post, I want to share a few key pieces of advice, that I don’t hear often and that I hope will help you in your journey as a writer.
I won’t go into detail about writing, re-drafting, editing, getting feedback on your book and getting a publishing agent or deal, as there are many posts on these topics already. Of course, you should make sure your work is mindfully created, proofread and feedback taken on board as you write your novel, but instead, I will focus on a few other points that are also of great importance.
A couple of years ago I went to a talk, in London, given by Michelle Jana Chan. She is an accomplished writer, broadcaster and journalist, who has worked in travel journalism for well-known magazines and newspapers, such as Conde Nast, The Wall Street Journal and the Telegraph.
She has had published her debut novel Song by the publishers Unbound. Now as many of you know or will be finding out getting your novel published (or even getting an agent so you can approach publishers) can be a very difficult task, especially when you are not a known writer. However, Michelle made it sound somewhat easy (at least for this her first novel which she discussed at the talk). But how did she make this sound easy? – Because she was mixing in circles with publishers and writers as part of her work. This enabled her to get her book seen and eventually to get it published.
Now, before you leave a comment, this is not going to be the case every time and most people writing novels don’t work at publishing houses or magazines. But, needless to say, you can open up many avenues for yourself by building relationships with those in publishing in a variety of ways.
So having contacts and building relationships with other writers, agents and publishing houses small or large is clearly a beneficial approach for your getting a publishing deal.
For example, ways in which to do this are by going to networking events, talks or presentations by writers, agents or publishers and then speak to everyone there you can, make friends and acquaintances – and exchange contact details. Go to online events, workshops and talks, and ask questions, be proactive and make the contacts you can through these. The more you move in such circles, the more relationships you will be able to build.
Remember to be authentic: This should go without saying – but always bear this in mind. As you may be networking to find a route to have your book published, but we are all human, social beings that don’t want to be stepping stones. So treat people with respect, reply to their messages in good time, stay in touch with those friends you make as you would with any friendship. In the end, you may not get your book published, but you may build some wonderful friendships.
Self Cultivate and have an adventure:
Writers can be a shy bunch, and promotion and networking are not always things that come easily to many people who want to be writers.
So to help get over nerves and negative self-talk that may be holding you back, and instead, see networking or approaching agents as a form of confidence-building or just an adventure. It is not just a scary chore you have to go through to get published. The more you make your life an adventure, the more you will see how things that once scared you – are really not that scary. This perhaps sounds a bit of a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a good reason because fear will fade away and the more you do things that scare you – the less scary they will be.
Also, the more you see and make your life an adventure the more it will improve your writing – fill your life with new things, travel, meet new people, go to different events, take up a sport or hobby, challenge yourself to do new things.
Consider this ingredient in fiction writing and the fact that it is often far better to use strong verbs, for example – Instead of writing: John walked down the street. Write: John bounded over the cracks in the pavement with joy. The second sentence is more engaging, and whilst you should be careful to balance out the use of strong verbs, also live your life with a balance of adventure and interesting things – as opposed to just staying at home and watching TV.
This doesn’t mean you have to change your character, but those who live life to the full give themselves more chance to write well and get published.
Approach life with an Open Mindset:
As the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius once said – the problem is the way forward. If you get bad feedback, no one wants to buy your book or you feel somewhat lost with your writing. Then don’t stop, I am assuming you never started writing in the first place just to become rich, so you in part are doing it for the enjoyment, an outlet, to educate others, or just to create some escapism. So listen to feedback, but you don’t always need to take it on board, sometimes it will be of no value and you must not let it hold you back if it’s negative, your mind is not static and can learn and improve on your work – if this is needed at all.
Read as much as you can, study, mix with other writers, get and give constructive feedback on writing. Don’t just go to talks on how to get published, but go to talks on authors, history, science and mysteries or what interests you the most. When you learn something new whether it be good or bad – rejoice in the knowledge you are adding to the pool of understanding you have about yourself and the world around you.
Keep a focused mindset on the tasks at hand and do not allow yourself to be distracted by negative thoughts or other distractions in this modern world. You only have one life (as far as we are aware!) so keep it filled with glorious things and this in itself may help you to get published.
If you wish to read further about getting published – then Penguin books have created an in-depth page with videos and information on how to go about the process. You can find this link here.