Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

How do I get published?
by Lisa Schroeder

This is a question I get asked quite often by young writers, and I never know quite how to answer it.
Because, it's not a very simple process.

First, perhaps it goes without saying, but you have to have a book that is in the very best shape
it can be in. Please make sure you have readers give you feedback who aren't close friends
or family members, because those people don't want to hurt your feelings. They want to
make you feel good about your writing. I really think a good critique group is a necessity for
an unpublished writer. How do you find one? Check your local bookstore and see if they
have any groups who meet there. Check writing message boards that are on the internet.
If you join SCBWI (Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) you can join your local
chapter and put in a request there. This is a great organization and I highly recommend it
for writers who are writing books for kids and teens.

Okay, so let's say you've written, revised, revised some more, and you really do think you
have a novel that's FABULOUS. And when I say fabulous, I mean wonderful, incredible,
absolutely FABULOUS. Because you have to understand - the publishing business is
extremely competitive!! Agents and editors are flooded with manuscripts. Only like the top
1% of what they see actually gets published. You have to have a manuscript that is
original with a great voice and a killer story. So you think you've got it? Then what do you
do with it?

These days, you pretty much need an agent to help sell your book. So you have to start
doing the work to find an agent who might be right for you and your book. There's a great
site called Search by the genre, and you can find all kinds of agents
who represent this kind of work. Many agents have blogs. Read them! Hang out there, and
see what kind of vibe you get from them.

Once you have a list of agents you think might be a good match, you have to start the
query process. This is where you write a query letter and sent it out to agents and try
to get them to want to read your book. Knowing how to write a good query letter is

Honestly, there is a wealth of information on the internet about agents, publishing, etc.
I sometimes wonder if people write to me hoping I can give them an "easy in." There
is no easy in! And even if there was, why should I give one to a stranger anyway?
Learning how publishing works, finding agents to query, learning how to write a query
letter, it's all like a job. At times, a full-time job. And, it's not for the faint of heart.
But if you are committed and really want to see if you can get your YA novel published,
I recommend you check out some books on the subject.

Here are just a few resources that are out there on the subject:

Writing and Selling the Young Adult Novel by K.L. Going
Writing for Children and Teens: A Crash Course by Cynthea Liu
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books by Harold Underdown
2010 Writers & Illustrators Market Guide by Alice Pope

Happy writing and good luck!

Lisa Schroeder

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