Writing & Publishing Tips: Six Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Tried To Get Published by Tracey Martin

Posted October 17th, 2013 in Guest Post, My Features, Writing and Publishing Tips / 24 comments

Welcome to my new feature, Writing & Publishing Tips. Yeah, yeah, I know, soooo original, right? Don’t judge, I didn’t feel like being creative the day I came up with it. Anyway, you’ll be seeing this new feature between twice to four times a month. Here, writers and readers alike can learn firsthand knowledge about writing and publishing from various authors (and occasional me). I hope you enjoy, and never hesitate to ask questions.  
Please welcome Tracey Martin to my blog. She is the author of the urban fantasy novel Wicked Misery. Since she’s already gone through the process of trying to get published, she wants to share a few things she’s learned so that inspiring writers can have a leg up when they try to get their books published.

Six Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Tried To Get Published
by Tracey Martin

The beautiful thing about the internet is that there’s no shortage of advice out there on how to write a book and how to get that book published. Over the years, I’ve probably read most of it. Some of it twice. Much of the advice is well-intentioned, but just as much of it, I don’t think ever did me any favors. So why am I adding to the deluge of information?

Well, let me start by giving you a brief history of me, my books, and rejection. Wicked Misery, my “first” book, was actually the ninth novel I wrote. I completed about fourteen, total, before I sold it. Many of those novels are hidden on my hard drive, unfit for public consumption. A few of them, however, are fabulous (so I think), but agents and publishers didn’t agree. I should also mention I’ve had three agents, and more rejections from agents and editors than I can count. I’ve been around the publishing block so many times it probably looks like I’m casing the joint.

So here a few things I wish someone had told me when I decided I wanted to write for publication.

1. Concept is almosteverything. Your prose might be fabulous, and you might be an amazing storyteller. But if your concept isn’t catchy enough, no one will ever bother to find out. Always think about concept.

2“Write what you love” is only useful advice in two situations. 1) You don’t care about being published by an established press. 2) You’re lucky enough to love what’s popular. That doesn’t mean you should write stuff you hate; that will show. It does mean it helps to read widely until you fall in love with something that lots of other people love too.

3. Finishing a novel is only the first battle. By the time you’re done editing it for yourself, you’ll be sick of it. By the time you’re done editing it for an agent (and/or an editor), you will despise its very existence. When someone tells you they love it, you’ll be overjoyed but look at them like they’re smoking crack.

4. Writing is a bit like being bipolar. There will be days when your novel is the greatest thing ever. There will be days when it should be burned. It only gets worse once you start querying agents or editors. Your opinion and mood will fluctuate with the sort of responses that show up in your inbox. Say goodbye to having an even emotional keel. Stocking up on booze or chocolate, depending on your vice of choice, is an investment in your mental health.

5. Although many people make it sound like signing with an agent means you’ve got it made, the truth is finding an agent is only one of many hurdles. The number of writer/agent relationships that go bust is a shocking but dirty secret that people rarely discuss. The number of books that agents can’t sell is, too. Then there’s the number of books that do sell to a publisher but readers don’t buy them, the books tank, and so does the author’s career. For every hurdle you overcome, you will be faced with yet another.

6. Don’t discount luck, or timing or serendipity or whatever you prefer to call it. There are factors out there beyond our control. Is the editor who gets your manuscript having a bad day? Did the agent you queried just take on a book very similar to yours? Some people will swear that all great books get published. But while being great helps, it’s no guarantee. (Luckily, self-publishing is a good option these days, and there are many excellent self-published books.)

In the end, the only thing you can control is yourself. Do you keep writing? Do you persevere with submitting? Do you work at your craft? Do you love what you do? Sometimes it’s easy to get beaten down and forget the love, but that’s the only reason to keep on going. After all, it might take nine books to get you where you want to go, although I certainly hope you get there faster than I did!

Author Bio
Tracey Martin grew up outside of Philadelphia, the lucky recipient of a drama-free childhood, which is why she spent so much time reading about other people’s lives. It was while she was working on her doctorate in psychology that she had an epiphany — imaginary people are way more fun than real ones. And so she began writing. Never able to choose just one of anything, she currently writes both urban fantasy for adults and contemporary stories for teens.

She likes her coffee simple, her music epic, and her movies to contain explosions. A city girl at heart, she doesn’t understand how she and her husband ended up living in New Hampshire, but writing keeps her off the mean, small town streets. You can find her online at tracey-martin.com. Website | Twitter

Check out Tracey Martin’s New Book
Jessica Moore thrives on misery. Literally. Thanks to a goblin’s curse, she gets a magical high from humanity’s suffering. A shameful talent like that could bury a girl in guilt, so to atone, she uses her dark power to hunt murderers, rapists and other scumbags—until one of them frames her for his crimes.
In desperation, Jessica seeks refuge with the one person she trusts to not turn her in—a satyr named Lucen. Like every member of his race, Lucen uses his lusty magic to control Boston’s human population, and Jessica isn’t immune to his power. But the murder victims belonged to a rival race, and when they discover Lucen is harboring Jessica, dodging the cops becomes the least of her problems.
With only five days to find the real killer, Jessica faces a danger far more serious than the brewing magical war. The danger of succumbing to Lucen’s molten seduction. ~ Goodreads

Guest Post, My Features, Writing and Publishing Tips

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24 Responses to “Writing & Publishing Tips: Six Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Tried To Get Published by Tracey Martin”

  1. Dee Garretson

    Tracey, great post, and every one of your points are so true, especially the part about having the right concept. It’s hard to get anywhere unless your concept has some unique note to it.

  2. Amy

    Hah! Great post, and so true about writing what you love. I think you have to love what you write, which is sometimes, but not always, the same thing.

    And luck, gods, yes. The secret ingredient.

    Can’t wait to read this one!

  3. Ashley

    Great post. I loved #3. Lol at this line: “When someone tells you they love it, you’ll be overjoyed but look at them like they’re smoking crack.” HAH!

  4. deborahjayauthor.com

    Great advice Tracey, particularly about having a concept. My fifth novel landed me an agent, and lots of positive comments from the Big Six (as it was then), but no sale as it ‘wasn’t what they were looking for at the time’ – I’m guessing not different enough in concept to what’s already out there.
    I wrote another couple, approached an agent in the UK (where it’s set), and got an enthusiastic invite to send the ms. She then decided she wasn’t ‘passionate enough’ about it, despite her initial enthusiasm about the original concept.
    So I got fed up with the roller coaster, self-published the one that did the rounds in the US, and 10 weeks in it’s selling well and gaining great reviews, and I’m just about to publish the more ‘original’ one. I love the options that exist now, and I won’t be going back on the merry-go-round.
    BTW I am a traditionally published non-fiction author, and my self-published novel is fast outstripping my tech books in terms of sales and, most important, income 🙂

  5. Tracey

    Deborah, that’s awesome! Congrats and good luck with it!

    I hear you on getting fed up with the roller coaster, and I’m so glad there are more options for writers now. I can’t tell you how many times I heard “too similar”, but just as often I got “too different.” It’s crazy-making.

    Thanks everyone, and thanks for hosting me, Jennifer!

  6. Braine TS

    This is a very sobering post about getting published and writing a book. No wonder some authors feel so attached to their work to the point where they start to get into it when someone gives them a bad review. I like #3 the best 🙂

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