Friday, November 25, 2011

How Did You Do It?

Question: How did you get published?

Short Answer: By persisting.

Longer Answer: It’s taken twelve years and five novels to reach this milestone. So much for quick money!

From the start, I began attending the annual Write! Canada conference. Through their intensive teaching sessions I learned writing basics, like Point of View, plot curves, and suspense. I met agents and publishers, learned what they expect, and learned appropriate ways to approach them. I gained hands-on skills with formatting, computers, and internet use—all transferable to writing.

I joined Writers Digest and amassed a library’s worth of books on writing (at a reduced cost). These are my textbooks, and I study them as I would college texts. When I joined Romance Writes of American, I quickly discovered I am not a romance writer. I joined Crime Writers of Canada and attended two Bloody Words conferences. Bloody Words was great for free books, and discovering people who plot murders for fun—like me. I joined The Word Guild and found a home.

Despite advice that I diversify my writing—I’ve written a couple of articles, short stories and devotions to plump my resume—I have focused on novels. These I’ve written and re-written, queried and submitted. I considered papering the bathroom with my rejections until I signed with an agent (we met at Write! Canada) and she began accumulating the reject notifications instead. My relationship with that agent lasted over three years, yet she was unable to sell my manuscript, Caught Dead. I submitted it to contests, and was twice short listed. In 2010 Caught Dead was published as an online serial—I still hope to see it in book form.

Murder In Hum Harbour, was written at my agent’s behest. The manuscript made it through two editorial evaluations, and looked promising for a series. Then the publisher closed, and once more, I had nothing.

I kept looking on my own, but I admit I was losing heart. Then a friend told me about Harbourlight, a new US imprint looking for mysteries, and I contacted them. It used to take months to hear back from a query. Harbourlight stunned me with their turn-over time. Less than a year from query to book in hand.

So what have I learned from all of this?

  • Persist. This business takes time!
  • Keep improving your craft, no mater how much it hurts.
  • Make connections. Writing may be a solo act, but achieving publication is not.
  • Publication is not the ultimate achievement. It’s just a step to whatever comes next.

Jayne E. Self

Murder In Hum Harbour

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