The Rules of Getting Published: How do you eat an elephant?


People come to me (in my therapy practice) all the time with issues that feel (and often are) overwhelming. They struggle, way too often feeling that they have to either solve the entire issue at once, or it is hopeless. And they get lost in that all or nothing dichotomy. I always remind them of the old joke: How do you eat an elephant?  Answer: One bite at a time.  Translation: You need a step by step plan.

So like Lord Edmond I have one. If you say you are not a planner, like many creative people, let me tell you, that is not my basic personality either. But even if it wasn’t naturally a gift of mine, I have learned that skill through years of running programs and the major division of a large agency.

You can learn this too. There is info on getting published all over the web. My research convinced me I needed a plan to get published and made me believe you will need one too, unless lightening strikes you. (Though it can.) But for me I am betting it won’t, so…

My plan can be reduced down to a number of steps:
1)DO the work. Research, know your topic!
2) CREATE  Get the first draft completed to a satisfactory level. I worked closely with my writing partner and my writing group. You need early input. Rarely are we objective about our work.
3) REVISE, reexamine, and reedit, shorten, tighten, find the pauses (see earlier post).
4)BROADEN the critique by having the manuscript read and edited by a wider audience. I have solicited ‘experts’ on writing, and on specific elements in my book (horses, herbs, medieval life/faires) and some general readers for pacing/enjoyment/clarity.
5) PROCESS  Evaluate all the critiques, let them resonate. Do not be defensive or write them off….if you cannot sell your self-selected audience you will not sell the general reading public.
6) RE-EDIT make changes based on your assessments of the validity of the comments.
7) FIND the right agent/editor. Do your homework. Know your subject. Maximize your chances of success by selecting the best match for your work.   (Remember: You will still be rejected.) 8)QUERY  Write specific Query Letter(s) that match the targeted person(s) you have selected and go through a comparable process getting feedback/editing your letter.
9) SUBMIT and don’t get discouraged. You will probably be rejected. DON”T GIVE UP
10) PARTNER  Work WITH the agent/publisher who selects you. Do not be defensive. Your book will be a child you share with them. They will be an ‘adoptive’ parent. Do what they suggest to help ‘your’ child. Create the blog, find the venues to publicize yourself and your work, DO WHAT IT TAKES.

SO, TO PUBLISH: You must believe to succeed. KNOW you will all the way down to your toenails! You can eat an elephant!

So that is my plan….you don’t have to follow mine, but I think we all need one.

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About joanneeddy

Writer living in North Carolina. Originally from upstate New York. I love my family, my community, and my friends, and embrace 'living deliberately' in the world, trying to make a difference. I have written an as yet unpublished book, The Call, an epic fantasy with historical fiction and folklore elements. My blog is for other writers, for those who love a good read, and for all who, like me, are looking to find and live their call.
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