Writing on Writing
By Megan Elizabeth
A friend of mine once asked me, “If I could offer any advice to new authors what would it be?” For a moment I paused, thinking who am I to give guidance or advice to anyone? The truth of the matter is, I am not James Patterson or J.K. Rowling. However, I am a writer who has started from the bottom and am working my way up through the industry in the hopes that one day I will be the next J.K. Rowling or JR Ward. So again I ask myself, what life experience do I have to share with a new writer? I’ll start from the beginning.
Writing is not a talent that one is born with. Sure, there are always those few stories of the phenom, like Steven Hawking who are just brilliant; but for others like myself it’s a constant work in progress. My tumultuous relationship with writing began at a very young age, that is, when I actually started writing, which wasn’t until third grade. Sad but true, I couldn’t even write my name. Why, you ask? I’m dyslexic, and from day one I was behind all the other kids. Little Susie was happily scratching her name on her papers with hearts and flowers; I was ripping mine up and tossing it in the trash. Taking a new paper, foregoing the name writing part and drawing epic scenes that only I would visualize in my head. Was that the making of writer? Could be, or it could be a little girl who watched too much TV and lived in her own world.
My family and I were told that I would never go to college, yet I have a BA and a CEAS. We were told I’d never read or write properly; yet I’ve read hundreds, possibly even thousands of books. I’ve also written two novels and have started a third. So, am I the New York Times best seller here to give advice to the lowly new writer? No, I’m the writer who was told that the New York Times was a pipe dream. Just like they told that little girl she would never read or write. It might not be today, but I will get there. If you want to write, you can and will be a writer. If you have a story to tell, there is someone out there who will listen.
Now the serious part—the part where I share my limited experiences with you, and you can take what you will from it. The first question that I get is, “How do you go about getting your book published?” Deep breath and ready for the answer? Keep in mind this is for works of fiction because the nonfiction world operates differently. Also, you can self-publish or go for a traditional publisher. For those of you looking for that professional acceptance into the publishing world, then traditional is for you, and you may continue reading. First, write your novel, even if it’s complete garbage. Keep writing until your self-titled garbage is complete. Then edit, edit, edit. Then even if you think it’s perfect, edit some more. Find a critiquing partner who understands your vision of the book and allow them to read it. (Hold your breath and hope they like it.)
Always be prepared to rewrite.
Always be prepared to rewrite.
Next, figure out how you are going to get your name out there. It’s not going to be based on how many “likes” you get on Facebook. In my experience, the best place to meet industry professionals such as editors and agents are at conferences scattered around the country. Find an organization that supports your genre like the RWA (Romance Writers of America) that gives authors the chance to interact with the industry. Here’s the difficult part—conferences can get pricey and so can joining organizations. However, I’ve always thought that the best kind of investment is investing in yourself.
Even so, if that isn’t possible, be prepared to write the world’s best query letter. What’s a query letter, you ask? It is a letter that the publishing industry uses to torture poor writers like myself who need 100,000 words to tell a story. A query letter is a one page letter that you will send to that oh-so-fabulous agent in NYC who can’t wait to make you a star and get you on the New York Times best sellers list. It needs to include a blurb about your book (not to be confused with a synopsis). Think what you would read on the back cover of your favorite book. Think that’s all? Nope, just getting started. It needs genre, word count, your author bio, as well as any previous sales you may have made. Did I mention it can only be one page?
Now you have your wonderful query letter, and you send it to all the publishers and agents you can Google. What next? It’s time to play the waiting game! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you must wait for a reply. You may not call, text, e-mail, Facebook, tweet or fax any of the people you have queried. Turnaround time can range anywhere from one week to three months; or the worst case scenario: no news is not good news. I am the world’s least patient person; I have people who can attest to that. However, it is always important to remember a bad reputation is very hard to change. So wait and be courteous.
You’ve waited, you’ve been polite and courteous, and worst of all patient. You finally get an email back or a prestigious envelope from NYC. You tear it open or can’t move your mouse fast enough to see the wonderful offer you got for your work of art. You open it and then…..REJECTED. Don’t panic! Even the greats like Sherrilyn Kenyon and JR Ward have been rejected, even dropped, by publishers. Cry, scream and curse if you have to, but do not under any circumstances e-mail the rejecting publisher or agent and ask them why they rejected you even if they haven’t already stated. Don’t tell them all the ways they’ve made a mistake, and they need to take you. Take it with a grain of salt, file it away and move on. If that doesn’t work, call your mom and cry to her like I do.
Okay, I forget, are we on number three or four? Moving on, things you will need to submit to an agent or editor. You will need to have a synopsis of your work ready to go. This a one to five page document (depending on the request—you need to save every version you create) that highlights the greatest parts about your story. Always include your ending in the synopsis. You don’t need the ending in your query letter (it’s just a letter to generate interest), but you do need your ending in your synopsis. This a chance to show your writing voice. Don’t just list what happens. Put those awesome skills you’ve acquired to work and show what you’re made of.
Synopsis…done. Next, your manuscript will either be requested in full or partial. A request for a full is pretty obvious. It means they want you to send the whole manuscript (check the submission guidelines for formatting). Make sure you’re sending exactly what they are asking for—nothing more, nothing less. A partial means they are asking for the first three chapters or fifty pages of your manuscript (again, check your formatting). In my personal taste, I like to end my partial at a great point in the story. Keep it clean, and leave them wanting more. Leave them wanting to request a full.
Oh, my gosh! You finally got an offer. Do the happy dance! It’s time to celebrate, go out for drinks, or in my case eat cheesecake. Make sure it’s the right choice and fit for you. If you’re questioning your choice, it is okay to say no, though I doubt you’ll want to after the rejection boat has sunk. Sign on that dotted line, and go straight to New York Times stardom. Hopefully, I’ll see you there.
When the sins of the past claim the future the craving for more can turn deadly….
When the goddess of Love and father of evil determine your fate do you fight back? Matteaus leader of the Fallen never backs down from a challenge. Not even when his fated female proves to be the most challenging of them all.
A former warrior in the Heavenly Kingdom, Matteaus, leader of The League of the Fallen bears the scars from a past filled with regret and misguided deeds. Renowned for his thirst for redemption and walking the line between saint and sinner, he is a male feared by many and respected by all. Determined to right his many wrongs, his drive for redemption is his only companion. His warrior nature his only passion-until his next assignment brings him in to the fiery path of a beautiful female who’s been on the run for secret reasons of her own.
Taylor has been running from Lucifer’s hot pursuit for years, her only concern has been keeping herself and her young son safe. Having no patience for an unwanted love affair she tries to ignore the instant attraction to the raw magnetism that rolls off of Matteaus. Yet as their desire for each other begins to overtake them, Matteaus’ steadfast determination to earn his redemption keeps him on the path of righteous and away from Taylor’s searing touch. Now Taylor and Matteaus must join forces to protect the ones they love.
Could this be the mission that finally earns his redemption? Or will his past misdeeds cost him everything, including the one female he is destined to love?
Megan Elizabeth is the author of the ground breaking new series The League of the Fallen-a series that mixes fallen angels and Greek mythology. She has written in many genres but always returns to Urban Fantasy and Fantasy. Spending many of her days teaching she is devoted to instilling the love she has for the written word in others. She lives in New Jersey with her son Alex and two dogs who are more like children than dogs. She is an avid reader and is an active member of the national RWA and FF&P branch. If Megan is not in front of her computer typing away she is working with her fellow writers in the Books & Bling critiquing group. If you’d like to know more visit her and The League of the Fallen at www.meganelizabethauthor.com
Face Book: Megan Elizabeth Author
Have a Blessed day!
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lynda-K-Scott/201599553208653