Flashback Friday: Silver Bullet to Getting Published*

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Every Friday this month I’m posting oldies but goodies to celebrate The Empty Pen’s two-year anniversary!

Electrical Storm over Brisbane by Richard.Fisher

Electrical Storm over Brisbane by Richard.Fisherhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/richardfisher/ / CC BY 2.0

It was a dark and stormy night. The line for a power point presentation (gulp) on the secrets of getting published stretched down the library hall. A bald, bulky security guard armed with an attitude and a short-haired, slender librarian armed with a registration list guarded the entrance.

Despite the use of power point, it was a good presentation (see why I said gulp). Bret Nicholaus, author, and Joe Durepos, ex-literary agent, were the presenters of Ten Secrets to Getting Your Book Published and they did more than just read from the slides. They looked at the audience, gave antidotes not on the screen and waved books around as props.

Much of the information was a reiteration of what I already knew (getting published is hard) and rumors I’d heard (make sure your cover letter is only 1 page). Still, hearing these facts driven home with scary numbers as backup was depressing.

They ended by saying that people with passion will probably get published, those merely interested in publishing probably won’t. According to their 10-10-10 rule, 10% of manuscripts sent to an agent ever get represented, 10% of those ever get published, 10% of those ever become successful (read profitable)…that’s sobering, but it just tells me that getting published won’t be easy. I wouldn’t say I’m passionate about publishing. I want it and even dream about it, but I don’t have the zeal and giddiness that I associate with the word passion (as related to business). Does this mean that I’m merely interested in publishing? Or do I need to re-evaluate how I define passionate re: the business world.

Highlights:
-Writing is a craft, publishing is a business
-After publication, you have 6 weeks to sink or swim
-Mary Higgins Clark got 40 rejections before publishing her first acceptance
-Mentioned Nicholas Sparks’ website a lot…A LOT
-Use agents who don’t charge fees…Association of Author Representatives (AAR) agents are guaranteed not to charge fees…find them and others at agentquery.com

Perhaps I’m being a Negative Nancy or Nick No, but some of the advice didn’t seem particularly applicable to me. Mr. Nicholaus writes non-fiction and he said to think outside the box when placing your self-published books. Instead of bookstores, think flower shops or gift shops. I can see how it’s a good idea, but all I could think was “a fiction book about uncovering a dark family secret about a possible murder doesn’t really seem to mesh with flower sales.” I know, I know, the point was to think outside the box about promotion.

Of course, they also said that none of their tips would work unless the writing was good, so I guess I’ll think outside the box later and focus on the craft for now.

*Doesn’t Exist

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2 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Silver Bullet to Getting Published*

  1. bethfinke

    I agree with the sentiment that “people with passion will probably get published, those merely interested in publishing probably won’t” but Yeeesh, I sure am growing tired of that word “”Passion.” How about:
    People with drive will probably get published, those merely interested in publishing probably won’t
    People with chutzpah will probably get published, those merely interested in publishing probably won’t
    People with perseverance will probably get published, those merely interested in publishing probably won’t
    People with blogs called “The Empty Pen” will probably get published, those merely interested in publishing probably won’t

    • Ha ha! People with blogs called “The Empty Pen” need to get their butts in gear and finish!

      I do appreciate your woo-woo spirit, though. Thanks. It’s nice to know I have a cheerleader.

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