A few chuckles, followed by some thought-provoking truths (I hope):
10. Mail the only copy that exists of your 800 page epic (typed on that uber-thin, transparent erasable paper) to Harlequin.
9. Confuse a series of catastrophes with “plot”.
8. Write your category romance from six different points of view, including the heroine’s pet lizard, Godzilla’s.
7. Post the name and email of the (unlucky) editor you’ve submitted your masterpiece to and tell all twenty people who read it to hound her with emails until she buckles under the pressure and buys it.
6. Bury your prose under towering mountains of adverbs and adjectives, unnecessary dialogue tags and redundant words.
5. Decide punctuation is for elementary school kids and literary conservatives.
4. Start your query letter with the following: “Dear Editor, the last ten romance novels I’ve read sucked, and so I thought...”
3. Go to a writer’s conference and stalk the editor of your dreams until you have her cornered in the bathroom/elevator/wherever, then slip her your manuscript, along with an adequate bribe.
2. Believe you are the next Dan Brown/Nora Roberts/whoever, and you don’t need to change a word of your masterpiece.
1. Never finish a project you start. Or never submit a completed manuscript.
The lessons learned from each:
10. Follow standard manuscript formatting, use good quality paper. NEVER mail the only copy of anything. And most importantly, know the publishing house you are submitting to. Harlequin does not publish 800 page epics...at least not yet.
9. Plot is NOT a series of disasters. That is a typical week in the life of a middle-aged housewife...but I digress. Plot is a complicated web of threads, woven to produce a compelling, page-turning story. Don’t understand what I’m describing here? There are plenty of craft books out there. Buy a few and read them.
8. Read MANY books published by your target house. I’ve used series romances as an example. Most often they’re written in two (with possibly a third--a villain’s) POV’s. Maybe you read one that had a pet’s POV, published back in ’83 (I wouldn’t know) but if the vast majority of recently published books have two POV’s, you’re best off following the masses.
7. FYI--editors don’t buy books because twenty people hound her to publish said book so they can “read the rest”. Unless those twenty people promise to buy a hundred thousand or so copies each. THAT might convince her. Otherwise, you’re just plain killing your chances of the editor taking you seriously.
6. Rather than writing sentences full of vague words that must be “prettied up” with modifiers, use words that are specific and paint a picture in the reader’s mind. Example: The tall man ran quickly across the street. Revised to: The behemoth zig-zagged between veering taxis, delivery vans and German sedans, tires screeching on wet concrete.
5. Okay...do I need to explain this one? BTW, I made up the term "literary conservative". Don't know if there really is such a thing.
4. First, editors like to see query letters addressed to them by name. The greeting, "Dear editor" screams "multiple submission by careless/lazy wanna-be writer." Second, editors don’t want to hear that the books they loved (and spent the past twelve months reading, revising, pitching, promoting, etc.) suck. Not the way to gain favor here. Nope.
3. First, editors don’t want to be stalked. That’s creepy. And two, editors may appreciate having a little extra cash to spend on margaritas, but that won’t help them convince the PTB Monday morning to buy your manuscript (some houses use a committee-type setup when determining what books to contract). Finally, editors don’t want to haul 400 page manuscripts when they travel home. They'd rather haul all those fabu free (published!) books home instead. This is why it’s more likely they’ll toss all but the first page before heading to the airport, then mail you a “Dear Author” rejection letter a week before next year's conference.
2. Writers who eventually get published learn the value of honest critique partners. They realize they can stay true to their vision while making changes that will strengthen their story.
1. Unless you’re the ex-lover of a former U.S. president or survivor of some disaster (like the Titanic’s final voyage), to get published, you’re going to have to write, write, write. And there’s more! You need to write a book from beginning to end, not start a bazillion projects but finish none of them. And then after that you must polish that rough draft until it shines and submit, submit, submit. There’s no magic to it. Just lots of hard work.
So, now that you've read my top ten ways to not get published, do you have any to add? I'd love to read them and perhaps extend my list. Thanks!
Go Ahead, Share Your Thoughts! .