The Tao of the Author: The Recurring Question

I’d like to talk about a question that I get asked a lot:

How do I get published?

My reply to this is another question which, in the moment and out of context, might sound harsh but I promise that I deliver it kindly: “Have you finished your book, yet?”
The amount of people who reply “no” is overwhelming. This might seem like an odd place to talk about this subject. It’s only the second post, after all. But this is suuuuper important.

You see, lots of creative folks like us are freaking themselves out, heading themselves off at the pass, getting bogged down when they should be flying. Everyone has a different opinion of where the fun comes for creatives. Is it in the creation itself? Sharing what you’ve made? Meeting new people? Getting reviews? No two people feel the
same way, I’m sure. But one thing we can be certain about is that we love what we do. We also get a bit ahead of ourselves, sometimes. All that imagination power has to go somewhere, right?

Imagination

I had this exact same problem. Hell, I still have it! I get carried away. As soon as I have an idea, I start thinking about where it’ll end up. Let’s use Aethertide as an example. I always wanted to write a comic. Eventually, I finished the script but, from the first moment of having the idea, I was thinking about what artist I’d love to draw it, which comic publisher I’d love to print it. I had to slap myself on the wrist and mutter: “Cool your jets, hotshot. You haven’t written the damned thing yet!”

I get carried away. I get ahead of myself. With that comes fear of the unknown and undue pressure. I’ve led myself to think “I can’t do this” before I’ve even grabbed a notepad. I’m bonkers, is what I’m getting at.

Becoming the full package

When I first started out, I wish someone had told me to think about “first things first”. Maintain the dream of becoming published/exhibited/having a ton of followers but don’t bog yourself down with the mechanics of it. You aren’t ready if your product isn’t ready. Your author self and your book come as a package, you see?

Approaching a publisher with a head full of dreams and a handful of scribbled-on napkins won’t get you very far. If it did, I’d have a hundred books out by now. However, if you’ve made your work the best that you can with the resources available to you, if it’s sat in front of you and you think “I can’t do anything more with this on my own”, then you’re ready to start thinking about getting published.

Research for authors

There is no single path after this. You have to find your own way. What’s essential, is research. If you come to my signing table with manuscript in hand and ask “how do I get this published?”, I can’t tell you. I wish I could. I don’t know you, your work, your vision. Only you can know that. Even if I did, I don’t know every publisher in the world. I only know a handful of the ones that are kind of around my area, and rarely on a first name basis. All I can tell you is how I did it. And we’ve already established that was bonkers.

You have to do your own research, folks. It sucks and it’s mind-numbing. It can feel like a huge comedown after the high of creating something, but it’s essential. Stalk people in a similar line of work on social media, read articles. Look up publishers and agents who specialise in what you’ve written. There’s no quick way, really. I’m sorry, but there isn’t. I wish there was.

Querying publishers

I still go through this process all the time. What it all boils down to is that you have to find your own path. Published authors aren’t gatekeepers to the world you want to live in. We’re just like you. We are still very much at the whims of agents and publishers. We still have to send out queries for our next book and hope the pubs like it, we still have to worry that no one will read it. You see us as ahead, but we’re right by your side, looking at the same view.

I know, I know, there wasn’t much solid advice for you there other than “finish the book” and “do your research”. I know that’s frustrating but, as we talked about last time, there is no Magic Bean. But focus, finishing the job and putting in the leg work really are three of the very most important things an author can have. With those three things under your feet, you’ve set yourself on the path to really getting published, your way.

Thanks for reading!ask-blackboard-chalk-board-chalkboard-356079

 

Tao of the Author posts are shared with my patrons a whole year before reaching the blog. To get the latest posts as they come without delay, head over and check out my Patreon page.

Patreon is the only way that I can get to book signings and meet new readers. It also helps me to release new books and collections so please do check it out.

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