After my speech at Pubcon17 last weekend on the topic of the paths to publishing, several attendees requested that I blog the information so they could have it available as a reference. Consequently, I am going to detour off our previous topic of scene writing for the next few weeks to accommodate this request. What follows is a reiteration of the bullet points of my speech.
When I was in the third grade I lived in Los Angeles. And being the bookish sort of child I often went to the public library. On one of those occasions, I met author Ray Bradbury. He didn’t seem to be an overly largish person. He had a lot of hair. And he had these giant glasses with thick lenses that magnified the appearance of his eyes.
Ray Bradbury read to me. As far as I know this was not some scheduled event. It was just some guy reading in the library to whichever children would sit still. I feel that I should recall in great detail his reading of Farenheit 451, but the reality is that I was in the third grade and I was focused on his gigantic eye balls. I do recall the book burning scene from the story though not in great detail.
After Ray Bradbury read to me, I walked up to him and said, “When I grow up I want to read books and write.”
Ray Bradbury gave me some advice, which I do remember:
- Read everything and then read everything else
- Write every day.
- Practice writing just to practice
- You have to write a lot to get good
There were long stretches of time where I didn’t do a good job of following Ray’s advice. I’ve had life detours, and hiccups, and downward spirals I had to climb up from. But today, I read books and I write.
And so do you.
First off, congratulations! You have written a lot. Maybe you’ve finished your first novel. Maybe your fourth or fifth novel. And now you want to become a published author. Be proud of yourself for what you’ve accomplished. There are a bazillion people who have said they want to write a novel, yet they never have.
But you, you have spent time, sometimes years, learning the craft of writing fiction. And your novel has a solid plot build around a fresh or unique premise. You have ensured that your scenes are set and clearly orient your reader in space and time. Your characters are solid and fleshed out with internal and external conflict. You have made sure that you have tension and conflict on nearly every page. Your point of view is consistent. You show more than you tell so your readers can visualize the story playing out in their mind’s eye. And you are comfortable in your preferred genre and your genre’s tropes so that your story will meet your reader’s expectations.
You have also worked with critique groups or critique partners who have helped you to see where your writing weaknesses are, and then you worked to learn more craft to shore up those weaknesses and solve your story shortcomings. Then, after all of that, you proofed your work to the best of your ability and this manuscript is the best possible work that you can create at this point in time.
Now you want to publish your book. Good for you. But which route should you take? Should you self-publish? Should you publish with the big 5? Would an independent press serve you best?
Next time: Self-Pub, Indie-Pub, or Big 5? Part 2