Hello again! Well here we are, the last habit. I hope this series has been helpful to you. It’s the most detailed and time-consuming non-fiction article I’ve written to date. It’s been both fun and an enormous challenge.
A quick review of numbers one through six before we get to the final habit. Highly Effective Authors… 1. Write every day.
2. Understand the business side of publishing.
3. Learn how to take criticism.
4. Set goals and meet them.
5. Learn how to self edit their work. 6. Read books both in their genre and outside.
And finally, Highly Effective Authors submit their work.
Yes, to some of you this may seem like a no-brainer. You can’t sell a book if you don’t submit it. Of course. But others will understand exactly what I’m saying.
First, some writers get caught up in the trap of trying to make their work perfect before they’ll send it out. They polish. They send it to CP’s, gather a bunch of suggestions on improving it and then dig into edits and revisions. They tweak. Fuss. Tweak some more. They send it to contests for more feedback and then tweak and fuss and change again.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with polishing your manuscript and making sure that what you submit is your very best work. But, Highly Effective Authors know when to say “Enough” and put the work out there.
Something to consider: Most often, a manuscript is rejected because there is something wrong with the story, not with the writing. Lack of conflict. A subgenre that is over-bought. A plot full of clichés. The biggest challenge of writing is learning to craft a compelling, marketable story, not learning to produce clean writing. A compelling page-turner will sell, even if the writing isn’t the world’s most well-crafted. Don’t believe me? Take a look at some of today’s best sellers.
Second, Highly Effective Authors know the proper etiquette for submitting work.
They understand and follow industry standards. White paper. Black ink. Clear, readable font (Times New Roman or Courier New). 12 point. Double spaced. One inch margins. One page query letter, professionally written (which is a whole ‘nother subject), a synopsis that details the goals, motivation, and conflict of the main characters and includes the resolution of all main threads. No binding on sample pages. No glitter. No chocolate bribery...or any bribery. They understand agents/editors aren’t out to “steal” their work, and don’t include warnings or withhold pages to protect their stories from possible theft.
Third, Highly Effective Authors follow publishers’/agents’ submission guidelines very carefully.
Many houses and agencies have submission guidelines posted on their web sites. Before submitting anything, a Highly Effective Author will do his/her homework, checking the agency/publisher’s site to make sure he/she is submitting the correct material in the correct format. Many publishers and agents have moved to electronic submissions. Some want writers to fill out detailed forms and then paste sample pages into it. Others want an email, with a specific form of attachment. And yet others want hard copies via snail mail. It is vital a writer check for submission guidelines and follow them to the letter.
Finally, Highly Effective Authors know that selling isn’t easy. That rejections are going to come. And that they’re going to hear a lot of no’s before they’ll hear a yes.
Publishing is a competitive, sometimes harsh world that is shaped and influenced by subjective editors, analytical bean counters, and publishers’ marketing departments. Not to mention the book buyers, who are heavily influenced by other media--movies, TV, the internet. Publishers are always trying to guess what the next big thing will be--vampires, warriors from outer space, reality television, erotic romance. When something hits, they all jump in. When the market becomes saturated and sales fall off, they all get out. A Highly Effective Author realizes that sometimes it’s simply a matter of having the right story at the right time.
But all these challenges and frustrations don’t stop the Highly Effective Author from sending out those submissions and collecting those rejections. Dozens. Hundreds. They may be at it for one year before they get their first request for a full, let alone a contract. Or it could take five years. Twenty. They always keep that goal in sight, whether it’s their first, fifth or tenth contract. And nothing will stop them from reaching it.
Good luck! And may you all be Highly Effective Authors.
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