by Rachael Hanel
Whenever I give writing workshops or teach a writing class, I always end with “going from here.” Now that the students have learned something (hopefully!), what do they need to do to get their work published?
I say, don’t even think about publishing until you’ve done the following:
–Realize that writing a book is a long process. You’re not going to have something with publishable quality after a few months or a year. You might have a draft in that time, but that’s only the start of the process.
–Revise, revise, revise. My memoir went through seven drafts. When I talk to writing friends, I think I got off easy. I know people who have gone through 12, 17, even 20+ drafts before their books were published. Generally, the edits get fewer and the process goes faster the deeper you get into it, but even so, revising an entire book takes time and effort.
-Get feedback. You cannot write in a vacuum. You need other eyes on your writing, people who will say what works and what doesn’t work and what you need to add/subtract. Ideally, these are people who know their stuff–published authors with credentials whom you can trust. Where do you find these people? Many authors will do manuscript reviews as a side job. If they offer those services it’s usually mentioned on their websites. Almost any author will consider doing this work if you pay them.
–Take writing classes. The Loft is always a great resource for writing instruction. It offers both in-person and online classes. You can also check your local college/university. Look for free or reduced-fee classes or workshops at libraries and community centers.
I’ve served on several review panels over the years that evaluate writers’ work. I’m looking for evidence of realistic goals and a commitment to the craft. If writers incorporate the tips above into their writing practices, they are going to be in a much better position to find success.
Guest post contributed by Rachael Hanel. Rachael is a writer and teacher in “flyover” country, Minnesota. She’s the author of We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down: Memoir of a Gravedigger’s Daughter, published in 2013 by the University of Minnesota Press, and was a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award.