I’ve slapped together this blog post for my writer’s group in Saskatoon, so there’s probably nothing new here if you’ve been trying to get published for a while.
Anyhoo, back when I started this whole “getting published” gig, in the days when there was no Internet and dinosaurs walked the earth, the only writing resource that one could find was this brick building called a library. And all the books on writing were reference volumes, so you couldn’t borrow them. I’d take a notepad and pull the thick writer’s market book off the shelf to spend hours flipping through the pages trying to find out the intricacies of getting the terrible, awful, crummy bad stuff I’d typed on my typewriter out to the mystical magical world of sweet publishing legitimacy.
Thank the Gods those days are over. There is so much incredible writer resource stuff online that you can easily spend days flipping through the hundreds of websites, blogs, guides, web forums, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts that are out there. So, which places did I peruse (and still lurk)? Here’s my list in no particular order.
1) Absolute Write Forums: Yeah, that place. Specifically, the Bewares and Background Checks forum. There you will find first-hand experience with publishers and agents, who is accepting submissions, who isn’t and most importantly, who to avoid. There’s the usual web-forum drama and I swear, there is no force on earth stronger than Absolute Write member’s hatred for the soul sucking entity known as Publish America. This place needs to be your starting point on your journey because the forum has been a fixture for newbie writers since like … well, forever. Its sheer volume of content means there’s a pretty damned good chance that anyone who is anyone in publishing has a thread about them. Do check it out – actually, bookmark it.
2) Preditors and Editors: Again, massive content on who is who and who you should run like hell from in the way of agents and publishers. This is another Internet oldie but a goodie, and a damned fine public service to anyone who is seriously thinking about throwing their project out the publishing gods in hope of sweet, juicy, publishing manna. (It’s been a must-visit site since 1997, people. They’ve been sued, they’ve been pilloried and they’re still helping writers every single day.)
3) Agent Query: Another fine resource that will help you learn a little bit about the agents that are out there and what they’re looking for. And listen, if you’re going to query an agent, for crying out loud please read their submission guidelines. Agents are mond0-busy and don’t have time to screw around with people who can’t read a sentence on a website.
4) Pub Rants: Literary agent Kristen Nelson is one of the most sought-after agents out there and for good reason: she knows what the hell she’s talking about and her agency has this habit of selling really damned good books. Oh … she’s been blogging since 2006 and in February of this year, moved her blog to my first linky. But she’s kept seven year’s worth of stuff on the old blog alive and well. Here’s the link. Do check it out, and do pay close attention to her annual post wherein Kristen provides the statistics for that year – from the number of queries to the number of requests to the number of offers to the number of deals. That annual blog post alone will give you a clear indication as to how freaking hard it is to get an agent and a book deal.
a) Your favorite author’s blog. Seriously. If there’s an author you love to read, they likely have a blog. Google them and find it because every published author that I know of has a blog and is always posting yummy authorly advice for you to chew on. (Sort of like this blog post)
b) Twitter: I cannot stress enough how amazing this resource is – so long as you actually use it as a resource and not a distraction to your writing. Literary agents are on there. Publishers too. And they offer free advice in 140 characters or less but for crying out loud, don’t query an agent on Twitter. It pisses them off and they will inform Planet Earth that people who query them on Twitter don’t get very far.