If you aspire to be a fiction writer and think all you have to do is sit down to your computer and create, you will be very disappointed. Most writers eventually want to publish their work. They want family, friends and others to read what they’ve created.
Here are some tips for gaining attention in the fiction world:
1) Enter contests. The first contest I entered was for a nonfiction piece. It was a national contest sponsored by Reader’s Digest and McCalls Magazine. I won second place and I received a note from the editor of Reader’s Digest. We talked and one year later I published my first written words as an original piece for Reader’s Digest, receiving more money than any advance on my later books.
This experience taught me not to be shy in entering contests. My cozy mystery won first place in the Malice Domestic Grants award for new writers. That boost motivated to keep writing fiction. My nonfiction proposal won first place in the Harriet Austin contest for nonfiction and was later to become my first published business book.
Don’t worry about winning the contest, just get your name out there. Even the smaller contests are worth entering. Imagine a query letter that begins with, “The Clock Strikes Midnight won honorable mention in the Regional mystery writer’s competition.” That sentence alone separates you from all the other query letters coming across a publisher’s desk.
2) Take classes and re-write. I’ve leaned so much over the years. I thought I could write before I began composing my novels. Unfortunately I knew little about fiction writing. If you are like me and didn’t major in creative writing in college, you might need to invest some time and energy in studying the craft. I’ve taken classes on everything from dialogue to plot development. I participated in classes at writer’s conferences and online. For me Writer’s Digest offers the widest array of classes. Don’t be too proud to learn!
3) If an agent doesn’t snap up your creation, skip the agent and go to a small publishing house. With the current publishing industry in such flux, it is becoming harder and harder for new writers to break into publishing. Agents want a sure bet. They want someone whose works they know they can sell (and make money). After all, they earn a percentage on your royalties. The large publishing houses still rely on agented manuscripts. So, where does that leave the new writer? Forget the agent and go to smaller houses willing to take a risk with your new work. I used a search driven website to help me sort through the small houses: Duotrope.com. There are others out there. Find the best one and go from there. But, most of all do not give up. Write and re-write.
I will continue to share tips for breaking into the publishing industry. Please add a few of yours!
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