My library invites published authors to hold office hours in the library and help aspiring authors.
They give workshops (to all the branches) and appointment-based one-on-one feedback for writers. For the past year, since I learned about the program, I've made a point to meet with each and/or participate in one or more of their workshops. I've met Bill Konigsberg, Tom Leveen, Shonna Slayton, and Melissa Marr. From June-August, the writer in residence has been Marylee MacDonald.
I feel like in all of her workshops, she ends up talking a bit about publishing. (She gave two workshops, actually, specifically about publishing.) I'm grateful because it's such a fickle and mysterious world to many writers, including me.
She provides resources for aspiring authors on her website and answers questions about publishing because, as she says, "I just wants to share what I've learned." It's hard to sum-up everything she's taught me over the past couple months, but I'm going to try anyway. Enjoy the musings!
The hard truth about publishing
She has a funny list about why-you-won't-be-published, which she's shown in at least two of her workshops. I don't have her full list, but it has stuff like:
Right now, she says the thing that sells are romance novels and YA literature. There are lots of genres out there within these categories, like vampire romance novels (yes, that is such a thing), and it's important to know what you wrote and if it will sell. Because sometimes it doesn't.
Marylee is an advocate for senior-citizen writers (and is one herself), but another "hard truth" she taught about the publishing world is that agents don't like signing on writers who are in their 60s or older. Why? Maryless says it's because they don't know how many books they can get out of you. It's a business. They don't want one book from their authors. They want a lot.
It's not fair, but that's the hard truth. Another hard truth, which does affect me (I'm in my 30's) is that it takes a LONG time to publish. Sometimes 10 or more years. The sooner you start, the better, I guess.
The publishing industry is like a fish market
This analogy is a good one. It fits with what I learned in the book 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published and 14 Reasons Why it Might by Pat Walsh, a book a highly recommend, by the way.
Basically, everyone goes for the freshest fish. You need to not only be young, but also have a fresh idea. Your book needs to be original and good. Really good.
You're book's not done until you feel like throwing up
Marylee said, "If you think you're done, you're not." After you write all those words--- beginning, middle and end--- you need to proof read it. And then proof read it again. She says that if you have 20 avid readers (not friends or family) read your book and they say, "I couldn't put it down," then you're getting closer to finishing, but you're not, yet. She says you'll be so sick of the book that you'll feel like throwing up.
That's when it's "done."
Read Part 2 of this blog
"There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down... and bleed."
"Mongkonk Street, Hong Kong"