Now what?

So you’ve written something. Your friends have stopped calling because you never return their calls. Your dog has peed on the floor in desperation because you forgot to let him out for the fifth time in a row. Your partner has decided to play video games for the rest of his/her life because at least the female voice narrating the gore pays attention to him(her). Now what?

Send it the fuck out. Sure you could be all Emily Dickinson and keep your little books in a chest on your dresser, but let’s be honest, you probably aren’t as good as she is, you can’t rely on your sister to publish your poems for you, and in your little heart of hearts just admit that you’d like to be published. It’s OK. Published is good. It doesn’t make you a money-grabbing writing whore. Really it doesn’t.

Waiting to be discovered? Here’s what Meg from A Practical Wedding says. She had a wildly successful blog, but she still worked her ass off to get a book deal.

Over the past year, what I learned is that luck is yours to make. I always had the perception that bloggers suddenly started getting big, and then agents and publishers started throwing themselves at said blogger, and said blogger became an adorable, talented superstar. And that’s not the way it works in real life. In real life, you decide you want something, and then you go out and you work yourself into the ground trying to get it. You ask for what you want, you get told no, and you ask some more.

No one is going to beat down the door to get your work. You need to send it out. It’s a game of numbers. One year, I decided to send out three submissions a month. That’s when I started getting published. One of my friends calls this carpet bombing. Separate your submitting work brain from  your creative brain. DO NOT reread what you’ve written obsessively, just send it out.

And let your dog out, can’t you see he needs to pee?


11 responses to “Now what?

  1. Word. I would love to send it out, in fact I’d send it to anyone who’d read it. My trouble is the bloody query and where to send it. I had no problem putting together a 70,000 word humourous travel biography but as for beginning the journey to publication, now there I’m lost. What’s a poor literary neophyte to do?

  2. Start small. I’m no agent although I work in publishing (after manuscript has been acquired, etc.), but publishers like to see a track record. Publish pieces from your manuscript. Start with small journals, maybe in your area just to narrow it down. Once you get a publication or two, try for larger journals/magazines. Don’t get discouraged: it’s a game of numbers. So send them out like crazy. Like tomorrow.

    In the States, at least, you can always look at The Writer’s Market and there are a couple books about writing nonfiction book proposals. (I’m assuming you are on the other side of the pond because of your spelling and your enviable ability to use the word “bloody” when we poor Americans have to use “freaking” to get our point across without offending anyone.) But there must be an equivalent where you are?

    • Yes I’m out of the loop to be sure, I’m a Canadian living in rural France for god’s sake. I appreciate your advice, I just need to gather the courage and the know-how. Merci bien…

      • Ah, Canadian! Check out the website: new pages (Must be, I have seen Canadian journals on it, but I’m sure you can just send to the American journals as well. The internet is your friend. (Just do it, you’ll learn as you go.)

  3. A blogger reported that James Lee Burke said when he was writing stories, he gave himself 36 hours from the time he finished until he sent them out. That’s scary but it’d get the job done.

  4. i have been writing for more several decades now (even published in France, Bobbi!) and I have made an interesting discovery: the quality of a journal is directly proportional to the likelihood of their accepting my articles. A journal is far more likely to reject my papers if it sucks. Good journals always accept me. See where I am going? No self awareness. The problem is theirs not mine. It helps me to cope and gives me self-belief.

  5. Gah. GAH! Is it wrong that APW makes me want to gag? I’m sure someone somewhere will find that I’ve said this and ridicule and boycott me, but oh well. Most times I think it’s just smoke blowing up my butt – it’s TOO practical. Too SOMETHING that I just can’t stand.
    But the bitch IS published. Now I gag even more…..

    • Too practical? Hm. I tend to find her smug. I hate smug. (A little *everything I do is magic!*) Also, it’s all “you don’t have to worry about the visual details/what other people think!” etc., but then it’s all about the fucking visual details/what other people think. (Nothing wrong with visual details, dear thirty-something, but you CLAIM the fact that they matter to what you do.) I still like the whole “it’s not going to just come to you, you have to go out and want it” though.

  6. Maybe smug is right. And that magic comment is spot on. Too cheery? I dunno, I get sad and depressed, so I write about that.
    And fuck YES IT IS TOO about the visual. I mean, it’s about the love, but love is pretty. And I do like me some pretty…..

    • People respond well to sad and depressed, or what I like to call a healthy dose of self-hatred. (Therapists like that not at all.)

      I have the visual acuity of a slug and so I’m all interested in the other stuff. 🙂

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