Do s and Don’ts for New writers

It is a fact that there are many types of professionals in the writing world. Some are legitimate. For example, a literary agent is someone who will represent your book to potential publishers. You do not pay the agent upfront. They receive payment after the book has sold. An editor is a writing professional. There are editors who are in charge of purchasing new works for a publisher. There are line editors who help you go line by line through your manuscript to tighten and correct and revise.

We live in a much different publishing world than when we all saw John- boy Walton’s shame revealed as he realized he had been duped into paying a vanity publisher. We live in an era of much self publishing. An author who self publishes can do this in a number of ways. He or she can learn the program for software and publish as in produce the book in eBook form online. There are many options, Smashwords is one, Kindle Direct Publishing another. Some of these require payment. The next level of self publishing is when you show somebody your manuscript and they tell you how much they will charge you to publish it. You are hiring someone to self-publish you. Be very clear on that and make that decision with an informed mind. Fees can range as high as $1000 for a chapbook. Some charge hourly rates. Some will entice you into programs that include setting up a website for you, a FaceBook page for your book, tee shirts, coffee mugs and so on. 99% of this you can do on your own and much of it for free or minimal cost. This type literary ” professional ” is taking advantage of your desire to be successful as a writer. One example would be someone telling you ” You’ ll never make it into the publishing world as a poet.” To me, this amounts to nothing more than bullying. There are many many legitimate small presses and publishing houses out there that do it the traditional, authentic way. All you do is type in poetry publishers on your search box and click go.
I think that hiring a self publisher has a definite place. An elderly person who would like to publish memoirs for relatives is a good example.
Never let anyone manipulate you into rushing into an agreement because they play on your fears of never being successful OR of publishing at all.

What can I do to help myself make it into the legitimate literary world the traditional way then? I’m just Polly (Paul) Poet.
You can do a number of things. If you do not wish to pay someone else to publish your work and you continue to want to succeed in publishing, you can work as hard as you can at your craft. Go to workshops, writing groups, take classes. Revise and rework and continually hone your craft. Read as much as you can. Think about how the book is put together, what devices the author uses to tell his or her story. If the book won a prize, figure out what about it makes it prize winning material.
Enter contests in your locale. Maybe some organization where you live has a library writing contest or an annual poetry contest or flash fiction contest. Read the guidelines, write the best you can. And enter the contest. Many contests charge an entry fee. This is often where the prize money comes from for the winners. So find out what the fee is and save your money. Usually they are not really expensive. Stick to contests with low entry fees.
Strive to improve your writing every day. Know that if you have been born a poet and all the calamities in the world have not stopped the poetry from coming out of you, you must accept as an indie poet, it will take a long time and many years of small victories (that will feel great). This is no different from many other professions that require long hours, low feedback in the early years and a lot of loneliness.
Guard your desire to be a real writer well. Do not let anyone take advantage of that desire that burns bright in your heart. Keep seeking opportunities to improve, to grow, to enter, to submit and at some point, good writing will find its way onto a publisher’s desk who will say ” Yes.”.

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One Response to “Do s and Don’ts for New writers”

  1. clover58 Says:

    Seems to be sound advice, Rachael!

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