Aspiring Authors–Stop Writing and Go Research

If by some miracle you happen across this blog post as an aspiring author and haven’t yet researched the publishing world, stop writing and take heed, Friendo.

If you’ve already delved into the publishing world, this post is full of old news.
If you haven’t, please take advantage of the links below to kick-start your own investigative endeavors.

I went through the long, arduous process of writing my first manuscript all alone. I had an idea, I had the know-how, and I had the time to write. I’m not a pantser, I plotted my story out down to the last detail and disappeared from my social circles for three months and came out on the other side with a 94k word first draft. I went through edits, tightened the plot, whittled the word count and got the manuscript down to 77k words, sent it off to a trusted reader for feedback and got my third draft down to 75k words.

After all this work, which took the better part of six months, I finally had the genius idea of looking for agents and taking the whole “submission” process seriously. And here’s the important part dear Friendo—listen closely.
If you’re as ignorant of the publishing world as I was, stop writing your manuscript right now and start looking into the publishing world. It won’t take long to get a rough idea of what lies ahead.

There’s an entire subculture out there with vast amounts of online resources and insider knowhow. There are conversation groups and message boards, etc…. And it’s important you get to know about this world, learn about it, and understand it.

I tell you this because I made the stupid mistake of not looking into the industry before pouring my heart and soul into writing. I’m a life-long writer and even if I suck it up and have to live in a cardboard box the rest of my life I’ll still be writing. I may never get recognition, I may never make a living at it, but I am a writer. For better or worse it’s what I do, it’s what I want to do, and it’s what I’ve spent much of my life doing.

Which just proves my stupidity.

I spent so much time working on my craft that I never looked at my buyers. If you want to sell something, you need to know the demand and you need to know the market you’re getting into. So, if you’re looking to publish traditionally and you haven’t looked into what that takes, do so now. Go research agents and agencies. Go find out what queries are, and pitches, and synopsis, and go learn about the process of all that now.

The internet is your friend. Use it and go get addicted.

Query letters suck, but are necessary to get agents.

Discover the difference between pitches and synopsis.

Understand what your book will be—sci fi, middle grade, YA, romance, historical fiction, etc… (This took a bit of work for me personally since there’s a blurred line between Middle Grade and Young Adult and my manuscript falls right between the two)

There’re also plenty of groups and discussion boards out there as well where people discuss everything just listed (and more). Absolute Write Water Cooler is one for example.

Before you spend the next three months tweaking and editing without any idea of who and what is out there waiting for prospective authors, go do some research. If you haven’t delved into the quagmire of social media, online resources and helpful profiteers that seems to be the surface of the publishing world, then you should.

There is so much out there just waiting to be read, just waiting to help you. Go help yourself.

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