Publish SOMETHING Before the Book

Well, to be honest, I’m a little let down that it’s now February and I haven’t heard back from the last agent and publisher that I sent my work to in October. I was pretty sure one of them was sincerely interested. But…at the writing conference this summer the interested one said in a workshop for new authors that she gets 10,000 queries per year and has a staff of five interns to go through them all. That makes the odds better than winning the lotto (1 in 7 million, WA) or getting hit by lightning (1 in 2.2 million), but otherwise a long shot (I love google). My writer friend Phil Rink says he read somewhere that a writer should be sending out two queries a week. I haven’t sent one out since October so I’m definitely behind in achieving my goal.

So, I’m going to take an on-line writing class, and have narrowed it down to two offered by Christina Katz’s The Prosperous Writer. I’ve been using Christina’s books as guides in this confusing (and recently changing A LOT) publishing world. One of her books, Get Known Before the Book Deal suggests that I do just that, publish something before I get an agent. Well this isn’t news to me, I’ve been submitting articles to magazines (and getting rejected) since this time last year, but I’ve been doing it in the blind: figuring it out as I go along from library books. It’s time to take a class focused on building my resume of smaller things, with the idea that it will help when I shoot for the full length memoir. I keep reminding myself that some famous authors have been passed up by more than 60 agents before getting published. I’m only at 7.

I haven’t decided which of two classes I’m going to take.

One is called Writing and Publishing the Small Stuff by Christina Katz and it’s focused on just that. It makes a lot of sense that even if I publish one paragraph in a magazine, I still get to put it on my writing resume. The other is Personal Essays That Get Published by Abigail Green. This seems right up my alley. Personal essay is an incredibly short version of a memoir (says the ignorant novice), and this class focuses in part on how to publish them.

I’m finding that what I need to understand better right now is how to decide where to publish something. I have a book I “borrowed” from my friend Michele, Writer’s Market, which is like the Bible on where and how to sell what you write. It’s a great book, but it’s like an encyclopedia. It tells me everything I need to know about every publication in the U.S., but it doesn’t easily tell me which magazines fit my style of writing.

I’ve been writing articles for a year, but usually with only a single magazine in mind. It’s time to think bigger. Learn bigger. So we’ll see. Both classes start in mid-March and are six weeks long. Now I just need to commit to one.

I’ve had a prosperous couple of weeks. In January I turned 40, published an article in a local parent’s newsletter, and revamped that article, with a new working title of Finding My Way: Mommy in the Public School Special Ed. System.  I’m going to submit it in March to Skirt! Magazine

I’m also VERY excited to say that tonight my book club will be discussing a memoir Motion of the Ocean: 1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers, and a Woman’s Search for the Meaning of Wife by Janna Cawrse Esarey.  And because a woman in our book club knows a woman that knows Janna, we will hopefully be skyping with the author as part of our discussion, a first for our book club (big thanks for Carolyn for doing the work to make it happen). Watch my blog early next week to find out how it went.

Thanks for reading.

Lorraine Wilde

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