This is the question I seem to get asked most of all at festivals and schools. I think it’s probably the most popular question to ask authors when they’re stuck up there on the stage blinking in the bright lights. What the person is really asking of course is: how do I get published?
When that question comes up, I, and most other authors, will try to answer as best we can, trotting out the similar answers. Write a lot. Take the rejections and keep going. Write. Enter short story competitions. Write. Research publishers and send out queries. Write. Write. Write. Write. And we know it’s hard to hear these same old lines, but I don’t know what else to say. There is no magic answer, no quick way of getting there, and truthfully, when I got published it was a confluence of circumstances and events that made it happen and there are still some days when I look up kind of puzzled that I am published. I still look at the ‘big, important’ author’s books on my shelves and wonder if I’m really part of that crowd. Oh, didn’t I tell you? Being published can at times enhance your self doubt. Staring like a panicked tarsier at the best seller lists hoping to see your book on there is not condusive to a calm mind. Especially when you realise your book isn’t even sold in the country of the list you’re perusing. Yes being published can make you lose your mind at around two in the afternoon when you’re really tired and need chocolate.
But I digress. How it feels to be published is fodder for another blog I think.
The truth is no one can tell you how to get published. There is no real answer to that question, unless you want to do it yourself which is a different question entirely. Getting drawn into the fold of a publisher is part hard work, part luck, part catching the editor on a day they’re interested in what you’ve written, part mystery. And I’m not sure editors really know what they’re looking for until it crosses their desk and something lights up inside them at what they’re reading. Or the marketing department says they think the book will sell.
So what do you do? And all aspiring authors (and I say authors because not being published doesn’t mean you’re not a writer) I’m sending out a hug to you now because I know how bone weary, disheartened and plain desperate you could be feeling if you keep getting rejected. Keep your head up, keep trying and keep writing because that’s what it’s about isn’t it? The joy of creating worlds we can disappear into. The freedom to write our own stories, even if no one but your sister and the cat is reading it. And the cat would rather eat kidneys. Keep going…..
Okay, who am I kidding. You all want to be published. I know. I’ve been there and it’s really crap when you’re not isn’t it? So get out the tequila – or the Tim Tams if you’re under 18 – and indulge and rage at the world and call the ones who rejected you every bad name you can think of and then some. Hell make effigies of them and burn them (outside not in, you still need somewhere to live) and while you’re doing it run around the fire dressed only in a toga made from a sheet chanting death to all who stand in my path. Just don’t put it on facebook or your blog ‘cos that stuff will come back to bite you on the butt when you do get published.