When writers come to me and tell me they want to write and be published, I tell them, “Write the book.” Writing is a great idea, but it doesn’t matter how gifted you are if you don’t have persistence.
Then, some of these people come back to me and say, “OK, I my book is done. Now what?” After we celebrate, this is the advice I give them:
1. Go to a writer’s conference. Just because they have a finished manuscript doesn’t mean it’s publishable (http://bit.ly/SI1YBO). [< — Click to tweet!] At a writer’s conference they learn they can submit manuscripts for critique, and they can get feedback. They can meet with editors and learn more about the publishing world. They also meet fellow writers and can connect for prayer and support.
There are two conferences I recommend (because I’ve been to both): The Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference and The American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference.
I started attending Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference in 1994, and I discovered friends (and co-workers) for life. I’ve been blessed to work with most of the editors I’ve met there. They saw my progress during the fourteen years I attended! We built great relationships. But more than that I connected with friends whom I’ve prayed with, cried with, rejoiced with, and worked alongside for twenty years. Going to a writer’s conference isn’t just about getting A BOOK published. (That’s super easy these days!) Going to a conference is more about you, your writing journey, and developing yourself as a career writer. I shudder to think what would have happened if I’d self-published something I came up with those first few years on my writing journey!
2. Find a critique group . . . or even a friend to critique with. I was on a few online groups back when the Internet was just getting a running start. I was on a secular writing loop for a time, and we’d critique one another’s fiction. I learned so much—not only from the others who gave me feedback, but also by critiquing others. I saw what worked and what didn’t work. It made my writing stronger.
3. If the manuscript is completed and ready, I’d start reading agent blogs and trying to find an agent. There are some people who go directly to self-publishing or approach editors, but my agent, Janet Grant, has been my partner on this journey. I have thirty-three books in print, and I wouldn’t be where I am without her. She’s my cheerleader, my career coach, and my go-to person. I get advice and *contracts.* She can find a great idea in all the dozens that I sent to her, and she knows which idea would be a fit for which publisher. An agent is another way of going from “just publishing a book” to being a career writer. Janet has a link on her agency’s website on choosing an agent. Not every agent is a good agent, and a bad one is worse than no agent at all (http://bit.ly/SI1YBO)! [< — Click to tweet!] I recommend that writers read agency blogs, get to know them in person, and ask for references when deciding.
So if you have a finished book, that’s where I’d start. 🙂