Sunday, January 16, 2005

How To Gain A Hearing

A writer wrote me this week saying, “The quest for a reputable agent who is passionate about my work, is far more challenging than writing the manuscript. When you're an unknown commodity, doors don't open that easily.”

With thousands of manuscripts in circulation with agents and publishers, it’s a challenge for anyone to gain a fair hearing—much less to locate the editor or agent who will champion your cause and get your book manuscript published. What steps can a writer take to find this hearing?

One of the absolute best things you can do for yourself in the meantime is to build a body of work--not unpublished but published--through smaller magazine articles (short stories if you only want to write fiction). In particular, I recommend writers look at the Sunday School take home markets. If you don’t know about this market, then you need to get a copy of Sally Stuart’s Christian Writer’s Market Guide and look in the section marked “Take Home Papers.” You will not make a lot of money with these markets, but you will be able to find a more open market to get published. These editors need quality submissions and they publish every single week of the year or four times more often than the monthly magazine editors.

Many people are focused on the long, full-length manuscripts. They miss building a reputation in the magazine market. And what’s the advantage of being published in magazines? When you are published in these markets, the editor or the agent will know you understand more about publishing than the other unpublished manuscripts on their desk. In magazine writing, you learn to write tight to a specific word length. You learn about the editing process and what editors do and don’t do to your words when you submit them. Plus there is simply the discipline which is built into a writer’s life from the regular experience of writing for magazines. If you have no idea where to begin, then explore the articles on my magazine tab at Right-Writing.com because it has a wealth of information. As for the aspect of how to find an agent? I’ll be back to talk about it another day—promise.

2 Comment:

At 11:49 AM, Blogger relevantgirl Left a note...

I wholeheartedly agree! It wasn't until I was published in mainstream Christian magazines (I took many other jobs before I was published there) and had a weekly column for nearly two years (over 100 columns under my belt) that I had an audience with an agent. You must put in the writing hours. You must equip yourself to know the ins and outs of publishing on a smaller scale before you look for representation for a longer work. You must be able to be edited.

At 3:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous Left a note...

The take-home papers really are a great place for publishing short stories. I made my first sale to a take-home paper.

C.J. Darlington


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