SEEKING A WRITING CAREER

I’ve been asked to speak to some graduating seniors about their writing careers. Speaking to kids who want to be writers is enjoyable, but I’m not sure what to say in these times of such massive changes. Publishers who are scrambling to stay alive in the changing world of publishing by doing all the wrong things are making for a tough sell for the future of writing careers.

Until the big publishers wake up and smell the roses, and realize that the way they’re doing things has become antiquated, I’m not sure I can find much good to say to these seniors. I don’t want to put out the flame, yet I must be honest. Writing has become one of the toughest careers to go in to. When I broke in, there were a lot of publishers buying in almost every genre. Today, only one or two of the New York 7– or is it 5?– will even look at anything that’s not agented. And worse, many agents only want to represent what they think, hope, dream, will become a million dollar book.
So what are the choices for a new writer? Someone with brilliant ideas and talent to boot, along with perseverance to stay the course. Of course, there is an answer to this question, but will they be willing to give it a go?
When a new writer joins our critique group, she wants to know how to get an agent to sell her book. We have to tell her that first she’d better make sure it’s been edited and is ready for that step. Invariably, she’ll tell us that the publisher will edit the book. No, sorry. That doesn’t happen anymore. Not with a new writer. It had better go in ready to publish, or nearly so or they won’t take the time.
Next, we ask her what her genre and concept are. Most don’t know what we’re talking about, but you can bet an editor or agent will want to know. First comes genre, then comes concept. If that concept isn’t a hot topic at the time, forget it.
Getting down to the nitty gritty, we suggest that she begins to read her pages and start rewrites. Either she agrees to this or she finds another group to join. We’ve helped countless writers over the 25+ years of handling this group, and some have even become published, no mean feat today.
There are several ways to become published. Most include countless hours of rewrites and fixes and more rewrites. And continuous submissions without giving up. Studying the market is another must. While it’s not a good idea to write for the market, when your book is finished, you’d better know where to market it. I always liked to aim at a target rather than use scatter-shot and hope to hit. But I also know better than to write something I’ve never read just to fit a market. There is a happy medium, though, and we all need to find it.
I like to read Stephen King and Dean Koontz, but know better than to shoot at that market of horror, which is pretty well closed. So next I check out genre paranormal publishers to find someone who might be interested in something I could write for them. Some small publishers also are willing to consider the horror genre.
And speaking of small publishers, that’s where it’s at today for young or new writers. These houses are paving the way into the “new” publishing of tomorrow. And so are ebook publishers. These markets are the wave of the future and a good place to get started. And then there’s always the wide-open fields of nonfiction, from regional to national. The easiest sell today in both small and large publishers.
So maybe I’ll tell the seniors that there is hope out there. That by the time they’ve honed their craft to the point of being ready to publish, there will indeed be a place for their work in the new markets of tomorrow. The small and the ebook publishers.
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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
This entry was posted in Dean Koontz, ebooks, publishing, small publishers, Stephen King, Velda Brotherton, writing career. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to SEEKING A WRITING CAREER

  1. irishoma says:

    Sounds like good advice to me, Velda. Good luck!Donna Volkenannthttp://donnasbookpub.blogspot.com

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