::Literate Blather::
Thursday, December 11, 2008
5 Questions About: Getting Published

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 Publishin
g. 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. B
ut 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 gam
e in town.

hat 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 stra
ngers? 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 cou
ld 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.

5 Questions About: Chick Lit

Tony Hillerman and the Power of Setting

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Blogger Dave Zeltserman said...
One of the most important skills for a writer is to be able to honestly read and evaluate your own work. If you can do that, you can keep hammering away at your work until it's right--or know when to just toss it and start over. I know a number of people who are very discerning readers but have a blind spot when it comes to their own writing, and I think that's almost impossible to overcome.

I would like to clear up one misconception out there, and that's that the vetting process leads to publishers buying the best books. Nope. Not at all true. What it more and more is leading to is them buying what's perceived to be the safest books, or what they're guessing are the most "commercially viable" books. This lack of regard/respect for the reader is causing more damage to the industry than anything else--they need to move away from this and go back to buying what they feel are the best books, and assume that's what readers want, instead of dumbdowned writing that is "relentlessly commercial".

Dave Zeltserman
Small Crimes--"Top 5 Crime and Mystery books of 2008" NPR, "Best Books of 2008" Washington Post

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