Wednesday, June 20, 2012

8 Tips to Propel Yourself Forward in Publishing

Respect the Mystery
Ever seen Toy Story? Remember the claw? This is how I like to think books get selected in the publishing industry. Randomly. Mysteriously. And instead of spending time badmouthing others, claiming I write Einstein compared to their Sponge Bob drivel, it’s better to respect the mystery.

Take timing, skills, market need, platform, and a little pixie dust and there you have it—the books that make it.

Take Care of Who You Know
You’ve heard the expression it’s all about who you know. Well, not exactly. It does nothing to know people for the sake of getting ahead, for crab-stepping over others on your way to the top. It doesn’t matter if you’ve befriended unpublished women who love to read or bestselling authors. No matter whom you come in contact with, treat them well. With kindness, respect. Heck, throw a little pixie dust on them. We all could use more of that.

Refuse to Believe it Won’t Happen (in other words Believe it Will)
I have absolutely no doubt my time is coming. I’m not a prophet. I’m not egotistical or unrealistic about my skill set. I often have days when I look at my work and cringe. But I work hard, refuse to quit, nurture a spirit of learning, and hold onto hope like an old lady does her purse. In fact, I often use hope to clobber lies over the head much like said old lady.

Polish up on Craft by Reading Books
Read well-written work. Read books on craft. Read to your kids. Read left. Read right. Read in the day. Read in the night. (Am I reminding anyone of Dr. Seuss’s The Foot Book?)

Invest in Time to Write & Be Willing to Sacrifice
Write. Write. Write. 'nough said.

Meet Face to Face
Go to conferences. I loved meeting my agent in person. I met her before she was my agent. I always think fact-to-face impressions improve your chances in this industry. A passion for your novel shows when you’re pitching it. Your ability to connect with others and care shines through in especially noticeable ways in person, too.

Reach Out
Send that random note raving to the author whose book you loved. Friend that writer on Facebook. Follow that editor on Twitter. What could it hurt? Take risks. Life is short.

Embrace a Spirit of Learning
Above all things (I write this because the publishing industry is ripe with moments for us to learn), embrace a spirit of learning. So much is turning on its head in this industry. Interactive books. Houses being gobbled up and bought out. Amazon (need I say more?). Self-publishing morphing from the red-headed stepsister into Cinderella. It’s worth it to pay attention, take notes, and keep an open mind. Recently I got put to the test on this. And I want to pass with flying colors.

What others ways can you think of to help propel yourself forward in publishing?
*photo by stock.XCHNG

38 comments:

  1. I'm on my journey to finding an agent. Trying to do all of the above (except I don't have the funds or time at the moment to go to conferences). But I add a trust and peace in God- I know I am in His hands and I trust Him to bring what is best for me, whatever that may be.

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    1. Trust & peace in God is tops. Learning that more and more every day.
      ~ Wendy

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  2. Writing again. Writing where my heart leads and taking chances with it.

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    1. You know I'm all about taking chances! Good for you, Terri!
      ~ Wendy

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  3. Hi Wendy, Great tips. I've been asking God to stay close by, to bind my wandering heart to His. To lead me to the right doors, and guide me away from the closed ones.

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    1. What a powerful prayer! Think I might send those same words up tonight. I believe it makes a difference--the doors we walk through.
      ~ Wendy

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  4. These are great. I'm so looking forward to conference this year!!! Only three more months!

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    1. Julie, I don't believe I've officially announced this anywhere yet, but I'm bummed. I'm not going to be able to make it to ACFW this year. Planning on it for 2013 though.
      ~ Wendy

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  5. Love all of this! A spirit of learning is so important, as is the positive attitude. I like how you say you know your time is coming, with confidence, not arrogance. I feel this deep knowing inside too. It might not happen for years and years, but I think if I stick with it, learn, grow, I'll get there too.

    And for me personally, the way to "propel myself forward" is to pray, stay in God's Word. Then, I'm stepping in time with God and not running too far forward.

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    1. I tend to readily and regularly break out in a sprint. Yep, God's time. Cool you know it, too. There's something freeing about that. Beautifully freeing.
      ~ Wendy

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  6. One thing I've learned about life is to walk with grace. If God has called us to be writers, than He will give us the grace to do all these things and more, so choose to walk in that grace. I don't have the grace to be a middle school band teacher or a restaurant manager - nobody would like me in those roles - but I do believe I have the grace to be a writer. Embrace the belief that God has called you to this time and place and keep at it! Your time (and mine) will come.

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    1. I love this perspective of grace, this way of viewing it! I would really bite as a first grade teacher. I'm always in awe when I visit the schools. And yes, I feel called so I walk in it, even when it's hard or confusing, or...(fill in the blank).
      ~ Wendy

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  7. Really good stuff, Wendy. Super wise for every writer at every stage in the journey.

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    1. Thanks! Cool to hear from someone who has crossed the line. Has B-man seen Toy Story? The claw...so much fun!
      ~ Wendy

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  8. Amen to all of this, Wendy. (And I love the old lady image. :))

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    1. I heard a story about an old lady who wailed on these robbers in the act of robbing a bank at a wedding I recently attended. It brought it home for me. Often my lies try to rob me of what's in store, and I just need to give them a good smack of hope as a reminder of what's to come.
      ~ Wendy

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  9. Hahahaaaa! I love this post. Esp. the old lady metaphor. Teehee!

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    1. I want to be like the old lady above. Fearless!
      ~ Wendy

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  10. These are great ways to propel yourself. I love number one. If you think of it that way, it's less pressure. I also agree with taking risks--dare to write a different genre, if you feel so lead. Maybe a book about Martians and Bigfoot is just what the industry is looking for right now (I hope) :)

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    1. I was just talking to someone about respecting the mystery yesterday. It reminded me to do just that. Oh, and Bigfoot...I'm intrigued!
      ~ Wendy

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  11. I'll be pitching my book at She Speaks in July, so I'm particularly grateful for your point about face-to-face interaction - thanks for taking the fear element out of it (a bit!) for me!

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    1. I'll pray for you in July! She speaks, she does! Go get 'em tiger. I'm believing in those face-to-face meetings for you!
      ~ Wendy

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  12. Thank you for all the pixie dust you've thrown my way. :)

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    1. Back at ya! Here's another full handful of the sparkly stuff! May it bless you!
      ~ Wendy

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  13. Learn everything you can about the industry so you know what to expect. When I first wrote my book, I thought I'd get an agent and have my book published within months. I was so naive back then. Now I know better

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    1. HUGE. Excellent point. This road is mother long.
      ~ Wendy

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  14. Love the reference to "the claw." :) It does sort of feel that way sometimes. Great list!

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    1. I could write an entire post on that, you know? Glad you enjoyed it. My favorite is how all those little green guys cry out, "The claw" when one has been selected. In our own way, we do the same. :D
      ~ Wendy

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  15. I love the Take Care of Who You Know, and Reach Out...so important...so genuine.

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    1. You know the funny thing is I'm pretty sure I've written a post almost identical to this one before, but when you get to almost 600 posts it's easy to lose track.
      Glad those got through.
      ~ Wendy

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  16. These are all so good! I love what you said about treating everyone with kindness and respect...it's not about getting to know people for what they can do for you...in fact, it's so much better to think about what I can do for someone else--uplift, encourage and bless them the way I'd want to be uplifted, encouraged and blessed. :) Striving for sincerity--that's huge to me.

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    1. Huge for me, too and if I can be honest, sometimes work. A whole lot of work b/c of how selfish and self-focused I can be. I'm the real WIP here.
      ~ Wendy

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  17. You knew you'd get us with the word propel, didn't you, honey? And I knew this post would be wonderful and full of meat, as are all of yours!

    My fave was taking care of people. It hurts when someone you thought was a friend, uses you and throws you away. And it feels wonderful when someone you thought was more important than you, cares. That's how Jesus would do publishing.

    I would add that prayer helps. A lot.

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  18. You make good points. I especially like the idea of treating those we meet with respect. My Sunday school teacher has said over the years,"In order to have a friend, we have to be a friend."

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    1. I try to remember this when it's been a week or so without a phone call. Good words.
      ~ Wendy

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  19. Great post, love it! Be careful not to loose your joy in writing because of all the difficulties in the publishing world :)

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    1. Can I get an Amen, woot, woot. That's right! Okay, clearly I've reached the silly stage I usually do this time of night.

      Such wisdom here. Keep the joy!

      ~ Wendy

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  20. This is so true! I love how you liken publishing to the claw. It is mysterious and we do waste too much time on it. I also loved the part about believing that it will happen. I need to do that more.

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