Thursday, December 30, 2004

Why Begin Writing Books?

This past week, I hung up the phone and simply shook my head at the conversation. Another would-be author called me about their manuscript. In town for the holidays, they wanted to meet and give me their manuscript. On one hand, it's admirable they wanted to connect with me face to face. On the other hand, it showed me their inexperience in publishing. For my part-time job in fiction acquisitions, I'm not trying to meet with people in person. Since January of this year, I've received more than 350 submissions for six possible books. If you want me to consider your fiction, then please send it to me in hard copy format and include the means to respond (SASE or email address). The guidelines for Howard Publishing submissions are on their website. I shook my head about this author because they had a handwritten novel.

On one hand, you have to admire this writer's persistence and discipline to complete a 80,000 to 100,000 adult length novel in their own handwriting. But to risk sending it to me doesn't seem practical. This writer needs to get a computer or use one at the local library and put their work in an electronic form. Then they will be able to easily get another copy of their manuscript and protect it.

The experience revealed a common experience. Many people want to begin their writing career with books. They have never published anything and yet they begin with a book. If you want to write nonfiction, you don't write the entire manuscript. You need to learn how to write a book proposal. I've got a lot of information about this process in my Book Proposals That Sell ebook.

If you have no publishing experience, then you need to make a conscious effort to get some publishing credits. The best place to get these credits is in smaller circulation magazine work. The articles are short (500 to 1500 words in general) and you will learn a great deal about publishing in the process. You will learn how to write to a specific word limit. You will learn how to capture the reader's attention with a bang up beginning. You will learn how the editorial process of publishing works (to a degree) and many other valuable lessons. It's the ideal place to begin. Look for a publication that publishes frequently. A weekly magazine often has a greater need for quality material than a monthly magazine or a quarterly publication. Follow this magazine link to learn more detail about magazine writing. If you want to be published, you are better off learning the ropes with a shorter piece than spending days and months on a long book manuscript that will likely never be published.

I'd advise you to plan a strategy that will likely lead to your success. Best wishes in the journey.

Do you have a question for Terry? Then use this email address.

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