I had the opportunity this past Saturday to speak at the Writing and Publishing Workshop hosted by the Vancouver Public Library. (I love my library- love them.) Because I am fortunate enough to have a few published books under my belt there is the idea that I might actually understanding publishing. (Feel free to laugh here.) What I know for sure is that I can’t tell you how to become a writer — I can only tell you how I became one. There are a few things I know that I can share:
1) You don’t have to know anyone to be published. Yes, it would be nice to discover that you mom’s old college roommate is now the executive editor at a publishing house, but don’t let anyone tell you that you had to have connections. I’m a slush pile find. Most of my agent’s clients were also slush pile discovers.
2) Overnight success is a matter of perspective. Whenever you hear a story of someone who suddenly became a huge success and is making piles of money — be aware there is likely a behind the scenes story that involves a writer who worked years on their craft. There are a few writers who win the publishing lottery and strike it big right out of the gate, but the majority work their tails off to be where they are.
3) No one knows what will happen to the future of publishing. We’re all still trying to work out what the growth of ebooks mean, how publishers will function in the new world, and what the role of an agent will be. No one is sure how things will work in the future, but we do know there will always be a need for stories. Books aren’t going away — simply how books are delivered.
4) A smart writer is reading all the time. Reading widely and frequently is the best way for you as a writer to learn your craft and understand the business of publishing. A writer who tells me that they don’t have time to read, tells me they aren’t serious about this business.
5) There is no right way to write. There are authors who outline, those who create the story as they go. There are some who writers who write every day, and others who write only when feeling creative. The only thing that matters is what works for you.