|It's nice enough, but look at the location!|
In some ways, yes, I went to school to become a writer. I have a degree in Speech Communication and English Literature with an emphasis on creative writing. But I’ve been writing most of my life. In grade school, like around third grade, when we were assigned to write sentences using specific words, I turned the entire exercise into an opportunity to tell a story. I wrote a play (a bad one) with a friend in sixth grade, and it seems like I was always working on some kind of story or book after that.
I guess technically I’ve only been in the business for two years. I kept most of my writing on the shelf and didn’t do much with it. A friend of mine, a memoirist and political columnist, asked me to review some of his writing, and it occurred to me that I could do the same with a book I’d been considering writing. I loved the story and the writing process, and realized I really wanted to work with a professional editor to make it better. That’s when I started to really look for a publisher.
As you can gather from the previous response, I have a publisher. I’m in search of an agent to represent my work. While I believe in self-publishing and everything that it can give to gifted writers otherwise overlooked for being too niche or genre, it has also opened the floodgates. There is a lot of mediocre and poor writing out there that could have been made much, much better with guidance from a professional hand. I’m not talking about the loss of voice—that’s not an editor’s job. At least not a good editor.
Getting a publisher or an agent is all about the same thing—keep writing. You have to continually work at your craft, learn how to tell stories, and how to make them compelling to an audience. That’s half of the battle. The other half is having a finely prepared publishing package ready to go, and going out on the hunt. The internet has made it easier than ever to research publishers and agents and find those that would be a good fit for your work. There’s a good site called Preditors & Editors which reviews publishers based on their integrity. There’s another site called agentquery.com which will let you search on agents who represent your genre. Those are the best places to look to for selling work.
The first best advice I can give is to write and keep writing. Not editing, but actual writing. Get the story written, get it out of your head and down on the page. Every writer I know who wants to be successful is constantly working on another project. That’s the key. It may not be “this” story that sells, it may be “the next” story that intrigues a publisher or an agent. So you have to keep moving.