Publishing that is.
Avoiding clichés is one of the biggest obstacles I’ve had to overcome as a writer. An instructor at Gotham once gave me a scathing review, calling my entire 10,000-word submission cliche—characters and plot and dialogue. I never liked this instructor very much, but I learned a valuable lesson from her.
I blame it on my upbringing. I was raised in the Deep South where clichés and superstitions are both recognized and appreciated. My mother doesn’t speak English. She speaks in clichés, one long continuous stream of them in every sentence. I happen to love that about her. Sometimes a cliché says it all. Especially when we’re talking about publishing. We all know there is . . .
More Than One Way to Skin a Cat
I attended several workshops and spent hours working with my editor on my query, but in the end, I only sent it out to a handful of literary agents. We’ve all heard the statistics. Literary agents receive hundreds of queries each week, and they only take on one or two new clients a year. Do you think F. Scott Fitzgerald would have been one of the selected two?
Kathryn Stockett submitted her query to more than sixty literary agents before she found one willing to take a chance on The Help. (If you want to be truly inspired, read Stockett’s article at More.) After all, in this day of political correctness, what literary agent in their right mind would risk their reputation on a novel about two black maids and a white girl in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi? Never mind that The Help stayed on the New York Times Bestseller List for YEARS and Hollywood made a major motion picture out of it. I’m not one to watch a movie more than once, but I’ve seen this one umpteen times, and I always cry at the end.
Kathryn Stockett has more patience than me. And she is considerably younger than me. When I realized I might be old and gray and wearing Depends by the time I found a literary agent for Saving Ben—and the literary agent found a publisher and my novel actually hit the shelves at Barnes and Noble—I decided to give self-publishing a try.
I’ve never been one to do things the easy way. Not that any route to getting published is easy. But in self-publishing, the onus falls solely on the author. Writer, editor, formatter, promoter, blogger. There are no literary agents or publicists to offer advice or show you the way. That can be a good thing for someone like me who’s more than a little bit of a control freak. With role models like Amanda Hocking and Colleen Hoover, not to mention the wealth of online support available for indie authors—websites willing to review your book, blogs that provide tried and true experience, chat rooms packed with like-minded writers offering support—I think we’ll see more and more aspiring authors become successful at self-publishing in the years ahead. I certainly hope I’m one of them. 🙂
Congratulations to the winner of Write-A-Thon:
(Keith please e-mail me your address at email@example.com)
Share your thoughts on publishing, both traditional and self.