[This is an updated version of an old post, something I'm going to do every now and then because this blog has become so big that it can be hard for you to find what you need. Which is one reason why I wrote Write to be Published. On which subject, do head over and join the FB page and have a chance to win a crabbit bag!]
So, here's my checklist for being accepted by a publisher, in no particular order:
- Are you up-to-date with what's being published in your genre? Are you a fan of the genre? Can you name, easily, six authors whose books you admire in your genre? I don't know why I said six - I was tempted to say ten, but that seemed a bit tough and seven is not my favourite number. Nine would seem a bit weird. And I could have said eight - in fact, I will. Eight, then.
- Are you writing something at the moment? You should be. And if you've finished something and you're waiting for people to get back to you, you should be writing something else. Writers write and usually get better as they go. (Though, for some interesting reasons, once you're published a few times, this may not happen...)
- Have you got lots of ideas in you? Train your mind to catch and play with ideas. But learn to discard the ones that won't work.
- Are you taking steps to discover all the rules about submitting to publishers / agents? Follow submission guidelines - they are there for a reason.
- Are you perfectly professional in your working life? Do you always do what you say you're going to do when you say you're going to do it? (And I do mean in your professional life - I'm not bothered whether you do the ironing when you say you're going to. In fact, if you do the ironing when you say you're going to, you've got too much time on your hands - get writing, for goodness' sake!)
- Are you beginning to network by joining forums or groups (on or off-line), using Twitter, perhaps blogging or at least commenting on other blogs? Not everyone wants to be in a writers' group or something where you have to share your work (and there's no need - I certainly didn't) but if you join an organisation or sensible webgroup/forum for writers, you will learn a great deal and make valuable contacts. And that you do need. Many people cringe at the word networking - so call it something else then, but still DO it. It's not creepy and crawly unless you are creepy and crawly. Just be friendly, open and sensible.
- Are you doing writing other than your core WIP? For example, do you blog? Or submit articles or stories to magazines. All writing is good practice and you never know where it might lead.
- Are you avoiding all the mistakes in the article on Common Mistakes of Unpublished Writers?
- Are you trying to learn about your craft, trying to improve?
- Are you open to constructive criticism from an expert? Obtaining and reacting to professional feedback is very important, especially if you've been rejected a few times already.
- Do you feel gutted and miserable and everything else unpleasant when you are rejected again? If not, you probably don't want publication enough.
- Do you ooze green poison when you read in the papers of some idiot's 6-figure debut contract? If not, you probably don't want publication enough.
- If offered the choice between a month on a paradisical island, all expenses paid, travelling 1st class, with silently gliding masseuses attending to every knot in your shoulders, bringing you iced mango whenever you feel like it, and an offer to publish your novel, would you choose publication? If not ...