With my book coming out next year, I find myself in a new position. Giving advice.

I mean, if you know me, you know I like to give advice. Maybe too often, unbidden, etc. But I honestly love to solve problems. Hello? Mystery writer. We love to puzzle stuff out.

A few weeks ago I was asked to take part in a “Publishing Roundtable.” I didn’t have much idea what would be expected of me, so I gave the issue—publishing, big issue—some thought beforehand. You know, to get my head in the game.

As it turned out, the event was a great, casual conversation, mostly about the published’s range of experience for the benefit of the as-yet-unpublished.

I just remembered the notes I made, though, and thought some of you might be interested in seeing them.


First and foremost: Writing first, publishing later

Keep up

-Read about the industry, but don’t read too much

-Writing first

-Read relevant blogs and review sites


Keep company

-Join associations

-Start writing groups

-Attend conferences

-Look for scholarships and other ways to get in and meet people

-Even if you want to write novels, work on publications in magazines and lit journals: Think of it as building an army of people who will want to help you succeed and take credit for helping you when you do.


Keep learning

-The MFA is not the end

-Learn about query letters, synopses, and rules for submission

-Read the Query Shark archives

-Agents websites—each submission is an individual submission

-Join Query Tracker and research agents

-Read the kind of book you want to write; read as much as possible


Keep track

-Know where your submissions are; keep a list or an Excel spreadsheet

-Keep any feedback you get

-When the feedback starts to sound familiar, fix that problem


Keep your own counsel

-Don’t talk about your rejections publicly; agents Google you; editors Google you

-Don’t give scathing reviews to other authors if you can help yourself

-Online is forever

-Be professional


Keep trying

-But learn from each step:

-As you write your query, if you can’t find the story, your book might have problems

-In the query stage, if you don’t get page requests, your query needs work

-If you get partial requests but not full requests, the sample pages might need work

-If you get full requests but no yeses, the manuscript might need work


Keep in touch

-Build a writing community whether you’re publishing or not

-Make writing the goal

-Check in with mentors

-Share news, but not too often

By Published On: May 30, 2013Categories: Little Pretty Things, Writing, Writing life