There is no one true path to getting published. Family life, interests, schooling and abilities will make each journey unique. For some, the path will be long and winding with lots of stops and starts, breakdowns and start-ups. For others, it will look smooth, green lights most of the way, with a purring motor under the hood.
But you’ll find all authors carry a tool box to help them on their way, because most of us have gotten lost, run into detours or found ourselves at a crossroads at one point or another. Here are some tools to help you on your way.
Read. Read often. Not only in your genre, but in ALL the genres. If you feel you need to learn voice, study other voices. If plot is what’s holding you up, study the plots of other books.
Read books on the art of writing, too. Here are a few of my favorites, passed on to me by my writing friends when I’d gotten stuck:
- On Writing Stephen King
- Take Joy Jane Yolen
- The Fire in Fiction Donald Maass
- Bird by Bird Anne Lamott
- Self-Editing for Fiction Writers Browne & King
- Writing the Breakout Novel Donald Maass
Write. A lot. Try all the genres until you find the one that suits you best. Like with anything, the more you write, the better you become, and the easier it will be to find your unique voice.
Sometimes writers get stuck on their path, faced with the dreaded blank page. Here are some books to help jump-start your muse.
- The Write Brain Workbook Bonnie Neubauer
- The Pocket Muse Monica Wood
Find other writers and form a critique group. It’s hard to share our work. All those doubts rear up to sideline us. Is my work good enough? Will they like it? What if they don’t? Maybe I should just revise it again . . .
But we need other writers to help form our writing. Sisters, brothers, parents, friends, kids . . . they will always love what we write. It’s other writers who will analyze what we’ve written with publication in mind and help us make our story to very best it can be.
Follow the journeys of other authors. You can learn much.
AUTHORS I KNOW who are very knowledgeable and blog quite often about the writing process:
- Kate Messner katemessner.com
- Cynthia Lord – cynthialord.com
- Linda Urban – lindaurbanbooks.com
- Carrie Jones –carriejonesbooks.com
- Jo Knowles – joknowles.com
- Loree Griffin Burns –loreeburns.com
- Debbi Michiko Florence – http://debtasticreads.wordpress.com/about/
Never stop learning your craft. These are some great sites for writing tips, articles, conference listings and submission information.
- NESCBWI http://newengland.scbwi.org/
- SCBWI http://www.scbwi.org/
- Writing and Illustrating http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/
- Children’s Book Insider http://cbiclubhouse.com/clubhouse/nonmembers1/
Once you have written, and revised, and run your manuscript through your critique group and then revised again, it’s time to submit your polished manuscript to publishers. There are websites and books which report exactly what publishers are looking for and in what format you should submit them. Pay attention to the details. Don’t send a non-fiction picture book manuscript about horses to an editor who is only looking for middle grade novels. Never send an entire novel when an editor is looking for a synopsis only.
- Writers and Illustrators Guide to Children’s Book Publishers and Agents
- Children’s Writers and Illustrators Guide by Chuck Sambuchino
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books
My journey was the long and winding kind, but I made it with the help of the books and sites above. Your path will be different, but you will get there too.
Just keep writing.