A Professional Writer’s Five Top Tips to Getting Published

Guest Blog by Julie Gorges

The question all aspiring writers are desperate to know: How can I get published?

When I first dreamed of becoming a published writer decades ago, that’s the first question I always asked at author lectures. No one had any magical answers for me, so I foraged my own path.

As a result, I’ve been working as a professional writer for more than 20 years. During that time, I’ve had a non-fiction book I co-wrote published by one of the big-time publishers, McGraw Hill, started my own publishing company with a partner, published two young adult novels, and lived out my dream of having book signings at Barnes and Noble bookstores.

In addition, I’ve had thousands of articles published in magazines, newspapers, and websites. This past year, I’ve added blogger to my list of achievements and am working on my fourth book.

So what’s the secret to getting published? I don’t have a college degree and I didn’t know anyone in the publishing business to help get me started. So, don’t give up, there’s hope for all of you out there like me.

To help you out, here are my top five tips. However, be forewarned, there’s no magic involved.

Learn Your Craft

Before you begin sending manuscripts out, take the time to learn the craft of writing if you haven’t already done so. I’m always surprised how many people don’t take this essential step. No, you don’t need an English degree at a fancy college to become a writer. But you do have to learn the basics – whether that means taking writing classes at a local college, reading every book on writing you can get your hands on at the library, taking advantage of all the information on the Internet, or attending writer’s conferences. This is a simple tip, but a crucial one – be sure and learn basic grammar, spelling, and writing techniques before submitting your work for publication.

Start Small and Earn Writing Credits

Many aspiring writers want to start out by tackling the great American novel their first time out to bat. Why not start small and work your way up instead? Believe me; you’ll learn invaluable lessons along the way and become a better writer. In addition, rejections for short stories and articles are much easier to take than rejections for a book that you’ve spent months or years pouring your heart and soul into writing.

How did I break into the publishing world? Six long years after I took my first writing class at a local college and after countless submissions, my first short story was finally accepted for publication in a small literary magazine. Later that year, I sold an article I had written for one my college classes to a regional parenting magazine. These days, earning writing credits is much easier than it was 20 years ago with all the freelance writing sites like oDesk, Elance, Freelancer, along with dozens of others. You’ll have to work dirt cheap at first, but you can earn some writing credits. Hey, my first check for my short story was $22 and I was ecstatic. Just don’t give up your day job too soon.

Find an Agent

An agent is required for many of the larger publishing companies (but not all, as you can see in the section below, “Find a Publisher”) so it pays to try and find an agent to represent your work. If you take my advice in the previous section and earn some writing credits, you’ll be one step ahead in the game and have an easier time finding an agent.

How did I find an agent for my first novel? Like I said before, I didn’t know anyone in the business, so I bought a copy of Writer’s Market, made a list of agents that specialized in young adult fiction, and sent out query letters. I learned how to write a good book proposal and when a few agents expressed interest, I sent them exactly what they asked for, which varied slightly.

If you want to find an agent, edit and re-edit you manuscript, and make sure your query letter, book proposal, and/or sample chapters are free from any grammar or spelling errors. Don’t give up easily. Do your homework and make sure the agents you’re querying accept the kind of book you’re writing. And finally, don’t pay reading fees – generally it’s a rip off.

One more tip: This is a good time to develop a thick skin. Pay attention when an editor or an agent takes time to point out flaws instead of sending a standard rejection letter. Editors aren’t always right, but don’t automatically assume they’re wrong either, especially if more than one notes a particular weakness.

Be Unique

If you’re trying to get published, I don’t have to tell you, there’s SO much competition out there, so you MUST find your own unique voice and perspective. Just about every subject under the sun has already been covered, so it’s really important to find a different angle.

For example, when I approached publishers regarding a book on building steel-frame homes, there were already quite a few books on the subject. But I couldn’t find any that focused on building energy efficient steel-framed homes. When it came time to find a publisher, having a distinct angle is what made my proposal stand out from the rest.

Find a Publisher

Of course, this is easier said than done, but not impossible. By the way, I found a well-known publisher for my non-fiction book without an agent. My Writer’s Market was gold once again, and I simply sent out query letters and followed up with my book proposal if publishers were interested.

My tip: Be sure and have a detailed marketing plan in place before you begin this process. This book was co-written with my father, a civil engineer, and our plans included seminars, speaking events, as well as other promotional efforts. Remember that even the big time publishers expect you to get out there and promote your book like crazy. Of course, now publishers also want you to have a social media presence and build an author’s platform. The latest Writer’s Market suggests you need about 5,000 followers to get a decent advance. So, now that I have an idea for a fourth book, guess what I’ve been busy doing?

So there you go, my top five tips I have used to become a published, professional writer. While it’s true that the publishing world is constantly evolving, one thing hasn’t changed over the years – and it’s my most important tip of all if you want to be a successful writer – don’t give up! You’ll definitely need the three P’s of writing: patience, persistence, and perseverance.

As Richard Bach said, “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

In the meantime, try and enjoy the journey. Writing is certainly a roller-coaster ride with plenty of ups and downs, but it’s also an adventure.

 

Meet our Guest Blogger, Julie Gorges:

 

Julie-Gorges-Author-Photo

Julie Gorges is the author of three books, has had hundreds of articles and short stories published in national and regional magazines, and won three journalism awards while working as a newspaper reporter.

 

Follow her for amazing posts, and check out her blog, books, and social media!

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Featured Writing Addict: Philip Cook

Philip Cook

Philip Cook was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where he currently resides with his wife, Cristina, mother-in-law, Martha, and their four dogs.

He graduated from Western International University with a Master’s degree in business administration, and is now a full-time real estate broker, dedicated husband, writer, and Sunday-school teacher.

Always interested in history and mythology, Phil embraced his heritage after traveling to Ireland, which gave him a deeper insight into not only its people and its land, but also its legends.

He was influenced by many famous writers, including J. R. R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, and C. S. Lewis. The author’s journey led to the creation of the magical world of Erden, where both truth and fantasy merge to become a story of faith, friendship, and the eternal battle between good and evil.

What’s Philip Cook’s Genre?

 Christian Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure

What’s  Philip’s Passion In Writing?

“My passion is for fantasy and science-fiction literature. I also have a strong desire to share my Christian faith, and decided to start a journey as a Christian-fantasy novelist. Throughout the story of Erden: Flame of The Creator, there are nuggets of Christian truths.”

What are Philip Cook’s books about?

Erden: Flame of the Creator

“After his nine-year-old niece, Lilly, follows a huge wolf into a shimmering pool of light, Peter and his new friend, Karina, jump in to save her. They enter the world of Erden where they encounter great, wicked, and dreadful creatures like the demonic Tzygula. Along the way, Peter and Karina are befriended and mentored by two human warriors—the beautiful Brittini, a highly magical and skilled Elvin swordswoman, and Riley, a powerful, yet smart-aleck leprechaun. Peter and Karina are amazed at the Creator’s power, and the strange, wondrous, and perilous world where they are trying to find and rescue Lilly.”

 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | Overstock | FamilyChristian | WestbowPress |
ErdenChronicles.com | Facebook | Goodreads | Email LinkedIn |

 

Erden: Flame of the Creator PROMO VIDEO

 

UPCOMING BOOK SIGNINGS:

Saturday, August 9th
From 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
 
Barnes and Noble Metro Center
10235 N Metro Parkway East Phoenix, AZ 85051
[more info…]
 

 

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Featured Writing Addict: Mary Ross Smith

Mary Ross Smith

Mary was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, the youngest of five children. Her family moved to Los Angeles, California in 1947. Both parents were entrepreneurs. Her mother was the founder of a prominent African-American mortuary in Los Angeles, and her father owned a service station. She grew up in Los Angeles and spent most of her young years in the funeral home where she learned the details and secrets of that business. Her young life was very troubled and sometimes threatened thus causing her to seek refuge among the dead. Mary’s two books use humor and drama to reveal mortuary life.

What’s Mary’s Genre?

Nonfiction & Fiction/Romance

What’s  Mary’s Inspiration?

“I wrote Soul Survivor to heal me, but soon found out that everyone has a story. My goal is to inspire others to know that life is about choices; they can make a change in their life, no matter how bad things are today. Something good can happen tomorrow. Never give up!

What are Mary Ross Smith’s books about?

Soul Survivor

Soul Survivor explores the depths of human emotions, both real and imagined. A true story of fortitude, an iron will, and looking to the future in the hope that tomorrow will be better than today.
 

Amazon.com Book Description:

“…explores the depths of human emotions, both real and imagined. That any of us reach adulthood in one piece, emotionally or physically is a miracle of no small proportion. That any of us reach adulthood to contribute back to society and become highly respected in the community is truly a gift of time and place.
 
…a true story of fortitude, an iron will and looking to the future in the hope that tomorrow will be better than today. …nothing less than a story of triumph. “Little Mary” Reese spent her childhood living, working and playing in a funeral home. Her mother, Mrs. Mary (“Big Mary”) Reese, was well known and respected in the African-American community in Los Angeles through the operation of a prestigious black funeral home. Little Mary’s story tells what really happens behind the embalming room doors—the light and dark side of life.
 
[This book] is both humorous and mischievous, and talks of sex, murder, voodoo, preachers and deviate gravediggers. Famous entertainers that passed through Little Mary’s life include Redd Foxx, Lou Rawls, Sam Cooke, Billy Preston and Johnny Cochran. Little Mary was born in 1944 in the South, reared in the Southwest and was often disparagingly referred to as “high-yellow.” During racial tensions of the ‘50s and ‘60s, Little Mary found her hue to be a major issue but not her only problem.
 
Mary’s mother caused her to endure life-threatening situations due to her drinking and wild ways. Little Mary’s childhood experiences, the mental and physical abuse faced each day, led her to believe that her only true friends were the dead people in the funeral home. Indeed, Little Mary received a BS degree (Be Smart) at an early age. It was the only way she knew to survive. Little Mary’s story is an unlikely but revealing peek into the unexpected and in the end, truly a story of a Soul Survivor.”
 
 
SOS
Challenge you to look at the person behind the pulpit!
 

 

 

 

 

To reach Mary Ross Smith, buy her books, or schedule a book-signing event:

Tell her you heard about her on editingaddict.com!

Webinar: Meet the Editor

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Editing Addict’s Billi Joy Carson is joining A Book’s Mind in a free webinar on June 19, 7pm (AZ time). Come join her as she shares about the editing process, and discusses its value in the publishing industry.

Registration:

When:

    • Thursday, June 19, 2014

    • 7:00 PM – 7:30 PM (Mountain Time – Arizona)

Where:

Featured Writing Addict

Today is a day to notice all the authors around us. They have worked long and hard hours to get their books written, edited, published, and sold.

You might be one of them. If you are, we honor you today. Congratulations on all your hard work! YOU are worth celebrating!

Tell us about the books you have written and are writing. How can Editing Addict be a part of your team?

Update! Writing Addict: Ginger Scott

Ginger Scott

Our January Featured Writing Addict has been published again!

Blindness

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“It takes a while to know who you really are. And when you lose your way, sometimes it’s hard to find it again.

Charlie Hudson was on the verge of figuring that out when her dad—the only parent and friend she ever had—died suddenly. She was barely 18, and she was alone. So she went for easy—playing life safe, running away from a home that harbored nothing but bad memories and challenges, and loving a man who would take her away from it all forever.

It’s funny how chance takes over when you need it most. And that’s exactly what brought Cody Carmichael into her life. A former motocross super star, Cody was now happy to be living the blue collar life, spending his days finishing up school and his nights under the hood of some classic car, just trying to keep everything his father taught him alive. Cody and Charlie were living parallel lives, until they finally collided. And the moment he smiled at her, Charlie knew he was the one who would change everything. But was she willing to take the risk?

Cody saw through it all. He saw her—all of her. But would letting him in be too much to take? And if Charlie let herself love him—really love him—could he love her back?”

To reach Ginger Scott, buy her books, or schedule a book-signing event:

Tell her you heard about her on editingaddict.com!
See what she had to say about our editor!

Featured Writing Addict: David Rich

David Rich

David Rich is a most intrepid writer—braving blizzards, monsoons, desert heat, and State Department travel advisories—to visit the world’s most out-of-the-way places, primarily by RV, from the Karakoram Mountains in Pakistan to the wilds of Borneo.

David retired in his forties to become a full-time international traveler, an occupation he found preferable to former professions of law professor and trial lawyer with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office (from which he says he’s now mostly recovered). He pursued freelance travel writing and exotic full-time international travel for eighteen years, living in almost every country on the planet. Until buying a home near Deer Valley Airport, AZ in 2009 (where he later obtained his private pilot’s license in 2011), he and his wife Mary had sold everything and were classically homeless.

Travel highlights include: climbing Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Roraima Tepui—where Brazil, Guyana and Venezuela intersect; the Annapurna and Everest Base Camp treks in Nepal; the Karakorum’s in NW Pakistan, hosting six of the world’s 14 highest peaks; the exotic Stans (particularly Tajikistan and Uzbekistan); Mali and Ethiopia; the national parks of Patagonia, and Petra in Jordan. The highlights comprise hundreds of incredible sights and far-reaching adventures, including a minor hostage situation in Serbia.

David and Mary RVed Europe, Scandinavia, Northern Africa, and the Middle East for three years; they RVed Australia for over a year, New Zealand during two visits totaling a year, and South America for two years. Along with the extensive RV and other independent travel throughout Africa and Asia, they interspersed sailing trips all over the globe from Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines to Venezuela, Panama and Columbia.

What’s David’s Genre?

Travel, philosophy, economics, government, religion, and ethics

What’s  David’s Passion For Writing?

“An addiction to travel has taken me around the world many times. I inherited the passion from my parents, who traveled every available moment. My travels have ranged from sailboats and Cessnas to RVs and backpacks—all over the world. We understand that you can’t know a place, country, people, or culture until you go experience them firsthand. My curiosity and thirst for knowledge of other places, peoples, and cultures have—with a few exceptions—found me living in every country on the planet. I love to travel, a passion reflected in my books, stories, and photos. I also write books on philosophy, specifically economics, government, ethics, and religion and have two works in process for completion by the end of 2014.”

What are David’s books about?

RV the World

“Traveling the world by RV is the least expensive, most interesting and convenient means to see the world in its entirety, up close and cosy. Anyone can do it. RV the World explains how, and takes the reader on a three-year RV trip through Europe, North Africa, Scandinavia, and the Middle East.”

Amazon.com Book Description:

“The easiest, most comfortable, safest and least expensive way to see the entire world is by RV, which the author has done on every continent save Antarctica. When people learn the author and his wife have traveled the world continuously for 18 years, living in 147 countries, everyone is curious. The questions are always the same: Does it cost a lot to travel full time all over the world? How much? How are you able to navigate all those foreign countries? What’s the best way to do it? Then comes, I wish I could do that, to which the author always says, Anyone can do it if they really want to. It’s easy and inexpensive.

The book answers all these questions and takes the reader on a tour of Europe, Scandinavia, North Africa and the Middle East, further answering where to go, what to do and exactly how to do it. The sights include all the Seven Wonders and much more, from fantastic cities, national parks, sprawling antiquities and incredible mountains to exotic shopping, fine dining and pristine beaches. Here’s how to ship your own RV all over the world or go wherever you’d like and buy an RV there, obtain insurance, deal with foreign languages, the requirements of the proper RV and how to sell it locally before moving onto the next continent. Full-time international travel is easy when you know how to deal with the necessary details from mail, inoculations, documents, weather, costs, airfare, investments and healthcare.

 
Myths of the Tribe

“The relationships among government, economics, ethics, and religion are explored in Myths of the Tribe: When Religion, Ethics, Government and Economics Converge. The relationships are many, recognition of which, would improve the efficacy of all four.”

Amazon.com Book Description:

“David Rich examines the pervasive influence of organized religion on three vital areas of human behavior — ethics, government, and economics — and argues that the belief systems of all major religions have become a detriment to clear thinking, rational conduct, and wise public policy.

Despite the fact that modern society is an outgrowth of the Enlightenment, most of our “tribe” continues to operate on the basis of assumptions and attitudes that have their origin in ancient myths. These myths, still propagated by organized religion, not only hamper efforts to apply reason to our problems, but they can foster violent conflicts that threaten global security, as witnessed today in the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East, Northern Ireland, and many regions of Africa and Asia.”
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To reach David Rich, buy his books, or schedule a book-signing event:

Tell him you heard about him on editingaddict.com!

Featured Writing Addict: Hayley Rose

Hayley Rose

hayley rose pic

Multi-award-winning author, Hayley Rose, released her first children’s book in 2002, Fifo When I Grow Up, about a six-year-old bear starting school. That book was followed by the wildly popular geography book and #1 best-seller, Fifo 50 States, published in 2010.  In 2012 Hayley was selected as one of “The Top 50 Writers You Should Be Reading” by AuthorsShow.com. In 2013 she branched out with a new series, featuring a new set of characters, Zach, Chloe, and Louis the Manner Monster. Her new book, The Do’s and Don’ts, was released in September 2013, and has already been honored by the Mom’s Choice Awards, along with a Readers Favorite bronze medal.

What’s Hayley’s Genre?

Children’s Picture Books

What is  Hayley’s Inspiration?

“My life experiences are really my main inspiration for writing, along with my goddaughter and godson.  I had a great childhood, full of adventure and support.  Writing is my way of giving back, to be able to share great stories that inspire and educate.”

What are Hayley’s books about?

The Do’s and Don’ts

Dos_book_coverThe Do’s and Don’ts is a whimsical lesson book aimed at teaching young readers the difference between good and bad behavior, or etiquette.  In the book, Zack and Chloe go from being manner monsters, to well-behaved children, as they provide samples of typical scenarios that not only young children encounter, but can relate to.  For example, Zack becomes a Manner Monster when he loses a game, kicking and pouting like a poor sport.  In contrast, good behavior is then modeled depicting Zack congratulating the winning team.

Unlike other etiquette books for children—that tell a story or just communicate positive behavior—The Do’s and Don’ts compares and contrasts between good and bad behavior.  Simply, yet colorfully displayed, are examples of inappropriate behavior and decisions young children may display, followed by behavior and decisions that are more socially accepted.  Each compare-and-contrast anecdote is set in the same scene, so that young readers can instantly see the differences between good and poor behavior.

Fifo “When I Grow Up”

wiguFifo “When I Grow Up is about Fifo, a brown bear from Denali National Park. He is six years old, and in the first grade. Today is the first day of school, and Fifo is a bit scared.

Mama comforts him with his favorite breakfast, and they talk about what he wants to be when he grows up. By the end of breakfast, Fifo’s been a doctor, a fireman, a pilot, a policeman, a teacher, and even the president. Now he’s ready for anything—even the first day of school.

Fifo “50 States”

Fifo 50 States - Book CoverFifo “50 States” is a delightful rhyming story where Fifo, a warm and lovable brown bear, is bitten by the travel bug. Fifo dreams of digging up diamonds in Arkansas, looking for fossils in Kansas, enjoying a delicious bowl of gumbo in Louisiana, and even seeing a Broadway show in New York. Yes, America is an exciting place!

Fifo’s second book is full of adventure. A colorful reference-like geography book, Fifo discovers the wonders each state has to offer. Along the way, he learns each state’s capital, shape, flag, motto, and much, much more. The possibilities are endless!

So, come along with Fifo, and you’ll soon discover the beauty of America one state to another. A positive experience for both Fifo and the reader. Learning should always be this much fun.

To reach Hayley Rose, buy her books, or schedule a book-signing event:

Featured Writing Addict: Jon Barnes

Jon Barnes

Barnes Jon profile

Jonathan (Jon) Barnes was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. From 2002 to 2012 he served Global Ministries (the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ) in South Africa and Mozambique, working with community development and theological education. While in South Africa he completed a Ph.D. in Mission Studies, focusing on issues of colonialism, neocolonialism, and power in ecumenical church relationships. He now works as Executive for Mission Education at Global Ministries, based in Indianapolis, Indiana.

What’s Jon Barnes’ Genre?

Nonfiction

What is Jon Barnes’ book about?

Power and Partnership: A History of the Protestant Mission Movement

P&P promotional flyer copy

“While the concept of partnership between churches in the Global North and South has been an ecumenical goal for well over eight decades, realizing relationships of mutuality, solidarity, and koinonia has been, to say the least, problematic. Seeking to understand the dynamics of power and control in these relationships, this work traces the history of how partnership has been lived out, both as a concept and in practice. It is argued that many of the issues that are problematic for partnerships today can find their antecedents during colonial times at the very beginnings of the modern missionary movement. For those interested in pursuing cross-cultural partnerships today, understanding this history and recognizing the use, as well as the misuse, of power is crucial as we seek genuine relationships of care and friendship in our fractured and divided world.”

What are others saying?

“In reviewing the history of Protestant mission work, Barnes exposes major themes or issues that cause those of us from the West to continually fall short in realizing mature ecumenical relationships, and through this analysis helps us see new possibilities for these relationships in the future.”

—[Graham Duncan, Professor of Church History and Church Polity, University of Pretoria]
 
Power and Partnership is a salutary text on partnership within the international ecumenical scene, for at least three reasons. First, as a book tracing the contours of partnership, it provides insights into a concept that has been closely associated with the modern ecumenical movement. Second, it highlights the need for a new impetus in both theory and practice of partnership. Third, while the focus is on historical analysis, it also lifts out key issues still dogging the global ecumenical journey—notably the contestation of power within partnerships.”
—[Des van der Water, past General Secretary of the Council for World Mission]
 
“With historical clarity, political insight, and missiological acuteness, Barnes traces the complex dynamics of cross-cultural partnerships. He provides . . . a deep, sophisticated, and accessible analysis of the achievements, struggles, and unfinished agenda for what will continue to be, at all levels of the Christian church, the most common experience of North-to-South relationships. Barnes’s work contributes to the reshaping of global denominational policy and congregational short-term mission practices.”
—[Carlos F. Cardoza-Orlandi, Professor of Global Christianities and Mission Studies, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University]

To reach Jon Barnes, buy his books, or schedule a book-signing event:

  • Amazon: Order Online
  • Email: jbarnes@dom.disciples.org 
  • Tell him you heard about him on editingaddict.com!

Barnes Jon with book