Sunday, February 18, 2007

Where do I send my novel?

Melissa emailed me this message:

Outstanding on getting your first book published! I just finished reading what you posted on your blog site about the journey you took into getting such a wonderful feat accomplished. My purpose for writing to you is that I am in the process of writing a novel and while I have read many online 'how too's about self-publishing vs. finding a publisher, I am at a loss at where to start to send my work. I read how connections and senimars worked for you, rather well might I add, but where do I start if connections aren't established? You must get so many emails from people asking you such questions but I appreciate your time and patience with one more person asking. I would love to know who to contact and where to start. Any help or suggestions you have would be absolutely wonderful.Thank you again for your time and patience,Melissa S.

I replied:

Dear Melissa,

Thank you so much for emailing and for reading my blog on how to get published. It’s my pleasure to respond and help you. First, what type of work are you writing? The genre and type of book is important for me to know. Non-fiction is quite different than fiction. Once I have that information I’ll be able to help more and give specific advice on where to send your work. Blind submissions are not a great idea though. Chances of getting published after an unsolicited submission are slim to none with fiction.

Also, where do you live, what city and state? Depending on where you are there might be some great conventions or writing seminars you can take that will help you make some connections. If not, I would suggest you go when you’re ready. Perhaps that is when you’ve finished the novel. Actually finishing a novel is probably a great goal for you at this point. Or writing a short story is a good goal. Short stories can be done comfortably in a couple of weeks. Something around 4000-6000 words is good. The time commitment is limited and that’s a good thing. Novels can take so long . . .

First off, though, keep working on your craft. Find a group of people who share your desire to publish and critique each other’s work. The chance that your work will be good enough to be published is greatly increased if you have skilled people helping you improve it. Becoming a good enough writer is a journey and none of us exist in a vacuum. The courage to show people who are not your family, your work is important. Writing groups can be good, but you have to find the right one.

The most important thing for you to do now is to keep writing your novel and study the craft of writing. Read books on the subject. I’ve posted some good books to read on my website in the resources section. Check them out. Your local library is a good place to find books on writing, though go with current books if you can.

Please send along the info on what type of book you’re writing and I’ll let you know some places you can send it, or other steps you can take. Thanks again for writing and best wishes.

Paul Genesse


S.M.D. said...

Great advice. I'm in a similar situation (but with short stories). Hopefully I can get one or two published by next year. People keep telling me I'm a good writer...

Anyway, I found your blog to be rather useful. So I've decided to put it on my blog page. Also subbed to the feed to hopefully keep track of new posts in a simpler fashion.

Look forward to reading more!

Paul Genesse said...

Hello S.M.D.,

Good luck with your writing and let me know if you have any specific questions. I'd be happy to help. The key is who you know, so get to know some editors of magazines that would publish your short stories. Find out what conventions they'll be at and go there.

Kelly McCullough said...

Hey Paul,

We've met at World Fantasy, I think. Wandered over via a link from Kelly Swails' page, saw this, and had to respond.

Knowing editors certainly helps, but it's not necessary. The first three significant short story sales I made were all to editors I'd never met. There is hope for those who don't make connections.

Paul Genesse said...

Dear Kelly,

That's great that you sold your stories without having connections. I'm not sure if I could have done that, but I haven't done any unsolicited submissions for short stories. All of mine have been to editors who asked me to submit.

I guess my point is that being able to send work to editors with the "requested material" words on the envelope is important. You can avoid the slush pile that way, but your point is well taken. There is hope that you don't need connections.

Kelly McCullough said...

It is nice to be able to put "requested material" on a piece but it's no guarantee. I've had novels bounced when they were requested and by the very same editor who bought other stuff before and after. What a connection primarily does for you is buy a closer first look and a faster response. It can also give you a chance to submit to a closed anthology. That's all great, and it's useful--more opportunities are always good--but really it's the quality of the story or novel that makes the sale. That's the take I've heard from every editor or agent I've ever talked to--I do have the industry friendships, but they came after the story sales.