An Interview with Author J.A. Konrath
About Getting Your Novel Published
(Everyone wants to be a published author these days. In fact, anyone who has scribbled more than 75,000 words often feels like they are entitled to be published. Well, Author J.A. (Joe) Konrath has a bucket of cold water for aspiring novelists: it takes really hard work to get published. Joe is the author of several thrillers featuring protagonist Lt. Jack Daniels. He also pens a writing blog called A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. Writers can also download Joe’s free e-book on publishing tips from his Web site. DaRK PaRTY talked with Joe about getting published and here’s what he told us. Get ready for a reality check!)
DaRK PaRTY: Is the publishing industry in the United States broken?
Joe: Not yet. But it's damaged. The amount of waste, the return policy, and the blockbuster mentality all keep the industry in the 20th, if not the 19th, century. And the rise of digital media isn't helping any.
But so far, it's the only game in town.
DP: What is the biggest mistake that new writers make when trying to get published?
Joe: They don't hone their craft, and seek the gratification of seeing their words in print before their words may be good enough to be in print. It's hard to get published, yes. But there's a learning curve, and the vetting process produces better writers.
I don't know of any other profession where someone does something and automatically expects to be recognized, paid, and lauded for it. I can play "What I Like About You" on the harmonica, but I don't expect the Boston Pops to come calling. Yet most writers think that just because they were able to string 90k words together someone owes them a contract. Make sure those are 90k good words first.
Will a complete stranger pay $25 for you book? Will 20,000 complete strangers? If not, try something else.
DP: How can a new writer increase their odds of getting published?
Joe: Write more. Submit more. Learn everything they can about how the biz works.
DP: What is an agent/publisher looking for in a query letter?
Joe: A reason to read the book.
Queries don't sell writing. Writing sells the writing. If the right book gets in front of the right agent at the right time, she'll want to represent the author.
DP: You write the popular Lt. Jack Daniels thrillers (most new writers could use a shot of JD!). Can you share with us your own road to publication?
Joe: Five hundred rejections, nine unsold novels. The secret is perseverance. And a large, healthy liver.
But seriously, there's a word for a writer who never gives up. Published. This business is all about luck, but the harder you work, the luckier you get.
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Labels: 5 Questions, interview, J.A. Konrath, Writing