Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Paying it Forward (or: How I Got Published, Part 1)

Writing, at least in my particular genre, is a wonderful thing. Most writers that I've met, published or not, seem to accept that the business is not a zero-sum game--just because one author does well and sells a lot of books does not mean that he or she takes sales away from another author. While this may be the case on occasion, for the most part the opposite tends to be true: if an author is selling well in a certain genre, chances are that particular genre as a whole is going to sell well. George R.R. Martin exemplifies this at the moment: more people are reading fantasy now than ever, and that's in part because the TV series based on his books is so freaking popular right now, which means his books are selling more than ever, which means fantasy is selling more than ever, etc.

Most authors I've met understand this, and therefore have a very generous, pay-it-forward, give-it-back kind of attitude. Writers who find success--even small amounts of success--tend to give back in many ways, from writing articles online that might be helpful to new writers to teaching classes to attending conferences and sitting on panels to creating podcasts and holding workshops and more. The writing retreat I went to a few weeks ago was a form of this: a great author and an awesome guy decided to open up his home to a few fellow authors, some of them (ok, mainly one of them--me) being rather green, but he had the resources and was willing to do it, and that's pretty cool I know it was something for which I was grateful.

Of course, there are other motives for doing these things than simply helping fellow authors. Like most things we do as human beings, a host of different stimuli drive us to any given action; a lot of the aforementioned things help the writers hosting them them to gain some publicity, network more, etc. While that's certainly a perk, from what I've seen and heard from most writers I know, that sort of benefit is mostly a happy accident. Because everyone, more or less, has to go through the same gauntlet (or a gauntlet of one kind or another)--every author I know got to where they are because other authors before them paved the way, gave them advice, taught them a class, introduced them to an agent, or something. So paying it forward seems to be the thing to do, and I guess that's pretty cool.

Yeah. Anyway.

This leads me to two things: (1) I chose a great business to participate in, so, pat on the back for me! and (2) I suppose it's never too early to start this paying-it-forward stuff, so I think I'll begin my first attempt now.

Basically, I'd like to start a new series on this blog that talks about how I got published. Something I searched for often but rarely found were stories of authors getting published, what exactly they did, how things worked, etc. There is a lot of advice out there, don't get me wrong, but there's not a lot of, I don't know, just people sort of straight-up talking about their experience.

I'd like to do that.

I mean, I'm not going to go into any excruciating detail or anything, or talk specifics about people I interacted with (especially not anyone with whom it went or ended badly). But I do just want to share how the process worked for me--what I did wrong, what I did right, what did and did not help, and so forth. I know I would've liked to read something like that when I was researching the industry, so hopefully this can be helpful to some of those up-and-coming types that might stumble across my blog.

So, without further ado, I present to you my blog series "How I Got Published." I'm planning to put up a new post on this every Tuesday (because hey, at least it'll motivate me to blog more if nothing else), roughly following but certainly not limited to this outline:
  1. Writing a Novel
  2. Finishing a Novel
  3. Revising a Novel
  4. Writing Groups and Alpha/Beta Readers
  5. A Ready (not finished!) Manuscript
  6. Conventions and Conferences
  7. Networking (or: being nice)
  8. Getting an Agent
  9. Waiting
  10. Writing While You Wait
  11. Finding a Publisher
  12. More Waiting
  13. More Writing (and Revising) While You Wait
  14. Getting Published
I'll be honest, I'm excited to explore this series. My experience has been typical in many ways and less typical in many more, and I'm interested to see how that all comes out in writing. I'm happy to share my experience, and hope that it, in some way, does help some of you aspiring writers out there. And, once you get your break, hopefully you can do the same.


  1. Congratulations on getting published! I'm looking forward to your book, and this blog series. I wrote an incredibly rough start to my first novel with NaNo last year and I'm trying to get my act together to finish it and then revise, revise, revise.

    1. Thanks, Katie! I know exactly what you mean--starting a novel can be easy, but finishing it is another thing entirely. And so is revising, for that matter. But put the work in and you can definitely see results! Keep me informed on how your process is going :-)!

    2. What kind of novel are you writing, by the way? (Also, unrelated, I saw Joey at the Qualtrics Summit and he has a truly epic beard. I'm very jealous.)

  2. Haha. Joey and his beard. My novel is YA fiction about a princess in a fictional Western European country while the monarchy is in the process of being dissolved. She has to struggle against family members who are willing to partner with parliament for the dissolution and others who are willing to kill to keep the monarchy intact. Finishing is indeed difficult since my wiring time is generally only when both of my boys are sleeping, but little by little I will get it done!