Naked guy on a sofa; how does a writer get published?

Hi, friends and readers:

Imagine waking up one morning to find a naked young man reclining on your living room sofa.

What would you say? What would you do? (I have a few ideas …)

Do you like this mornin’g photo post? I remember when I had hair that long, back in the 1970s. I thought it looked pretty good, but it was a pain to take care of. I keep mine short, now. I just wash it, towel dry it, and comb it. No blow dryer or conditioner or anything else. I guess I am lazy about my hair. I’ll let the younger guys mess with theirs while I enjoy the view. Moving on …

Peorple have written me from time to time, telling me they are aspiring writers of fiction, and asking, “How do I break into the publishing business?” I thought today I’d share a little of my own experience.

I began writing fiction a few years after I retired from practicing law in December 2000. (No, I am not ancient. I retired very early, due to good fortune in my chosen field.) I wrote a 400-page historical novel I thought was pretty good. After I finished it I went to the public library, where I found a few reference books with listings of literary agents. Over the next eighteen months I sent query letters to over a hundred literary agents. I got one request for a partial manuscript, but the agent turned the book down.

Feeling discouraged, I went to a writer’s conference in 2006. A published writer at the conference suggested I try breaking into publishng by writing short fiction. After that, I wrote several short stories and submitted them to dozens of literary magazines. In 2007, a San Francisco literary magazine published a story I’d written while I was living in Berlin during summer 2007. I was thrilled.

It took me another year before my second story was published in a short fiction anthology titled Bend Over, Big Boy (no joke, friends) released by Torquere Press. The anthology was a big seller for Torquere, and I finally had my foot in the door at a publishing house.

Once I had a few publishing credits in my pocket, getting published became much easier. In the past three years I’ve published a full-length novel, three short novels, two single-author anthologies, and about fifteen short stories. I’ve published through Torquere Press, Noble Romance Publishing, Cleis Press, Eternal Press ,STARbooks Press and Arsenal Pulp Press.

Each of those publishing houses will consider submissions from unpublished authors, and you don’t need a literary agent to submit to them. Their submissions guidelines can be found at their websites. Follow the guidelines to the letter when submitting.

As far as literary agents … Most print publishing firms will not accept non-agented submissions, and trying to find a literary agent, if you’re unpublished, is a waste of time. I must have a hundred form rejection slips from agents, in a desk drawer.

Print publishing is nice. But in my opinion, digital publishing is the wave of the future. Amazon now sells more digital books than print books. Digital publishing has really opened up publishing opportunities for new writers.

Persistence is the key, folks. Keep banging on doors, keep submitting, and keep on writing new stuff, every day. Did you hear me? Write new stuff for at least an hour, every day. You’ll be amazed at how your writing improves.

I recommend buying two books on creative writing: The Lie That Tells A Truth by John DuFresne, and The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. These are the best books I’ve found in the field. They are chock full of valuable information. Writing is not an art, it’s a craft. You learn by doing it, over and over.

Okay, this post has gone on way to long. So, I’ll wrap it up by saying: if you want to be a published writer, be dedicated and persistent. Don’t let rejection and/or criticism dissuade you from reaching your goal. When your work finally gets published, you’ll realize the struggle to get there was worth it.

Have a nice Saturday, everyone.

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