Publishing Principles: Cornerstones of your Writing Career

Most writers I know carry notebooks and take notes all the time. I buy books with heavy weight paper, preferably lined, and interesting covers that hold up to Flair pens and hard knocks, usually from riding in my purse. You might say I accessorize with notebooks, and notebooks are my method of marking time. For instance, it was two notebooks ago that I went to Stanford for a class on getting published, led by David Henry Sterry and partner Arielle Eckstut, and  took my notes in a book titled Lecture Notes with old fashioned iron keys dangling on the front and this quote:

That’s the way it is

with dreams. They scratch at

your door. You see them through

the peep hole. A stray dream looking

for a home. You think it might go away

if you ignore it. Wrong. It’s still

there when you open the door,

smiling. Wagging its tail.

My unpublished novel is baying on the porch. I’m opening the door…and I intend to succeed.

If you don’t know who Sperry and Eckstut are, you should. They wrote The Essential Guide to Getting your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It…Successfully! and their workshop at Stanford discussed and built upon the book.

Here’s a little foundation:

There are three ways to publish—traditionally, independently (through small presses) , and self-publishing ebooks and POD (print on demand) .

Today publishers aren’t going to market or promote your book (unless you’re already famous) so you need to be the “engine that drives the book.”

Authors who are entrepreneurs succeed by following four principles.

  1. Research—find out what books exist that are like yours and get an idea who might  publish and sell it. Who will read your book and how will you get it to them? Go to bookstores and libraries and look through the section where yours would be shelved. Read as many  books in your genre as you can. Talk with the booksellers and librarians. What is selling? Who is reading it? If your book deals with a topic of information, become an expert on that topic. Find the blogs and where your topic is showing up in the media. Follow Publishers Lunch for a daily digest of publishing news. Find out what all the deals are.
  2. Network—”Finding the right  agent and publisher, creating buzz, reaching your readers and selling books are all, in very large part, dependent upon people skills.” (Eckstut, Sperry) You can start now by joining writer’s groups, even your critique group. Talk about your book…ALL THE TIME. Sperry says don’t worry about anyone stealing your ideas. I say, so what? No one can write YOUR book!
  3. Write—I know, this sounds like a no-brainer, but my mind is boggled by the number of folk who talk to me about classes, and even editing, who are shocked to find out they will need to write or revise. If you want a long and productive writing career, you need to write. Every day would be ideal, but write what you can as often as you can. I have a friend who is suffering from cancer and chemo. She promised herself that she would write for 5 minutes every day no matter how awful she felt. She’s almost finished the rough draft of a new novel and has published several short stories. Were I to follow her writing lead, I’d have finish my Narco-trilogy some time ago.
  4. Perseverance—”…most successful authors have all had to persevere against oftentimes staggering evidence that they were complete losers who were bound to fail.” (Sperry, Eckstut) You have to send your work out. And you have to expect and deal with rejection. If you keep getting form letter rejections maybe your query letter isn’t working. (Note: did you open your query with that amazing  jacket blurb you got from that  famous author you met networking at a conference?) Research query letters and see what letters sold what books on agent sites. Keep evolving your material.


Assignment: Start your query letter NOW! And let in that dream…


Filed under Publishing

3 responses to “Publishing Principles: Cornerstones of your Writing Career

  1. Read more about the book and the Stanford workshop in next week’s post.


  2. Your blog looks very professional. Great content too! Thanks for doing it.


  3. Thanks, Foxy! I’m glad you liked it. Woof woof.