Friday, November 29, 2013

Aspiring Authors, Come on Down!

I'm a fan of The Price is Right game show. Have been since childhood. For those not familiar with the program, to paraphrase Wikipedia:  "a few contestants are selected from a large audience to compete to win prizes and a chance to spin the wheel for the big showcase prizes".
It's a silly show, but fun to watch, and in my opinion a good analogy of a writer's path toward traditional publication.
THE NUMBER OF POTENTIAL CONTESTANTS IS LARGE. There are many aspiring authors all hoping to hear …
COME ON DOWN! An agent offers them representation and the possibility to …
GET ON STAGE. Most publishers only accept submissions by agents, which give their writers a chance to …
SPIN THE WHEEL. Not all books are best-sellers, but a few will win the BIG prizes.
Both The Price is Right and becoming a traditionally published writer require a healthy dose of luck. However, unlike the pure chance of game shows, there are steps authors can take to improve their odds of winning at the writing game. 

Publishing is crowded with aspiring authors, but not all of them will finish writing their books. Even fewer will endure the rigors of the submission process. Make sure you're the one who doesn't give up.

Before submitting, polish your book until it is the best it can be. Workshop it. Edit it. Workshop it again. Edit it some more. And definitely don't send the first query letter you write. Make that as perfect as possible too.

Understand how the industry works. Sure, it's a confusing business, but the more you know about it, the better you'll be able to overcome its many hurdles.
Since there is no magic wand, the best route to success is old-fashioned hard word. Use social media. Make yourself accessible to book clubs. Build your brand name to help potential readers find your books. Word of mouth is still the most reliable path to the best-sellers list.  
Spay or Neuter Your Pets
The Price is Right might offer its contestants a chance to win new cars, exotic trips, or lots of money, but writing gives each of us even more: The opportunity to connect with readers and to have an impact on their lives.
That's a prize any of us should be proud to earn. (Of course, a six-figure advance that buys a new car or a vacation would also be great.)

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