Hi guys! :D So now that I’m caught up on answering the wonderful congratulation messages (I answered or published every one; if you didn’t get a reply, it didn’t go through, I promise), I figured I’d answer a common question that popped up! Basically, how the heck did I do this?
…Believe me, I’m still wondering that too. xD But I’ll try to write out the steps of what I did/what you should do if you want to get published in the same way that I did/am. (I still can’t believe I’m typing this.) And let me stress, this is just how I did it. This is one way to do it. I’m sure there are a ton, but this is what (apparently!) worked for me.
Sylver’s Totally Awesome Steps Of Things To Do To Hopefully Get Published
1) Write a really cool book. Write what YOU want. Write what YOU love and are passionate about. Basically, write a story that you would love to read. Then finish it. (THIS is the hardest part! Number one though! Now it’s done! Hard part is over!)
2) Edit the crap out of it. Never stop editing it. I’m STILL not done editing Chameleon Moon, because I keep having tiny little ideas every single day like “OH MAN THAT NEEDS TO GO IN!” or like, thinking up a punchline to a joke 3 years after writing it. That’s how my brain works. I’ll probably be adding/removing things up until it’s published.
3) Never stop READING. Read as much as you can. Read other authors you like. Read what people write about WRITING. And controversial as this might sound… read tumblr. And the internet in general. Obsessively reading writing and social blogs taught me so much about literature, creativity in general, coping techniques - and how to write diverse characters, especially marginalized ones. By that, I mean, five years ago? When I first started? Oh my god, I wrote some problematic shit. I still had a cool story idea, but I was young and clueless and didn’t know shit about oppression, privilege or the interactions of intersectional ANYTHING. (Oh my god, “Intersectional Feminsim,” how important you are.) I’m not perfect now, I am still learning, and I will fuck up at some point in all likelihood - but I’m actively trying to be better and fuck up less in the future and hopefully do some good where I can. :3 My point here is, learn as much as you can from other writers, especially if they belong to a community you want to write about/for. (I’m a very queer, genderqueer lady-thing myself, but the queer and gq/trans* comm here has taught me so much. Never think there’s nothing for you to learn.)
4) Back to getting published! Once you think your manuscript is really freaking great and ready, look for publishers. Or you can look for agents. I tried with agents for YEARS, and did not have a good time. On three separate occasions, I was told ‘yes this is good… wait, no, 3 months later, no we don’t want you after all.’ I don’t know if this is a common literary agent experience, or if it was just me, or just these individuals, or what. But I never had a BIT of success, until I went directly to a publisher. Who listened. And was amazing. So it really depends on what you want - agents can pitch you to big mainstream publishers. Smaller publishers like mine are more open to weird/fringe/’edgy’ fiction, and are willing to take chances. Especially on strange books about queer/trans/poc/agender/poly people kicking butt.
4.5) On that ‘finding an agent/publisher’ note, tailoring it to what YOU’VE done is important. Don’t bother with people who don’t do the genres whatever you’ve written is. Look for what/who would be a really good fit, and check out what they’ve published before. If you think your book would fit in with it, you have a much better chance.
5) Write a really good synopsis and query letter. Most publishers/agents will have guidelines saying what they want, and most will want a synopsis of some length. (This can be from 3 pages, to 1 paragraph. I had a really hard time here, but got over it eventually.) They might ask for the first chapter or first 10 pages, it depends. But you will always send a query letter. Google that, or “how to write a query letter,” there’s so much out there and it’s all pretty much the same. It’s basically a "hello, I wrote a cool book, this is what it’s about in a nutshell! These are some cool publishing credits I have, if I have them! I look forward to working with you if this is something you’re interested in!"
6) Send that shit. Most agents/publishers don’t like simultaneous submissions (where you send to more than one at a time), but some are okay with it, so always read the guidelines.)
7) Wait. And wait and wait. It can take weeks or months for agents or publishers to get back to you. Most of the time, you send in a sample, and then they say “cool, we want more!” and then if they like it, they say “cool, we want the whole manuscript!” And then if they like the whole thing, they say “COOL, WE WANT THE WHOLE THING! HERE’S A CONTRACT! <3” But there’s a LOT of waiting in between all of these. So be patient, and find ways to distract yourself. I recommend chocolate, peanut butter, pets, and whatever fandoms you especially enjoy.
8) Get ready to hear no. Get ready to hear no a lot. I’ve been trying to get CM actively published for around 4 years, through a CRAPTON of revisions and different strategies and edits and learning how to write better, and through all of this, you are probably going to hear NO more times than you can stand. It doesn’t matter how good you are. It really doesn’t. I probably went through 30 different agents, each one a rejection. I got so much no. I got a world of no.
But you know what?
you only need one YES.
Now good luck. <3 Take care of yourself. Keep writing. Keep LEARNING. Keep listening and most of all keep loving yourself and loving what you write. You are worth it. You have something to say. I promise what you have to say is worthwhile, and nobody can say it like you can. This is a really hard road (honestly, you want to be a writer? Are you quite sure? Am I quite sure? I think I am!) but I believe you can do it. I’m starting to believe in me.
<3 Go write.
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