By Susan A.J. Lyttek
I teach writing classes to homeschooled youth most every year. For the most dedicated writers among them, they always have one question. “How do I get published?”
Twenty or thirty years ago I could have told them to do a, then b, then c and finally you’ll achieve the d of publication. The route is not so cliché now. In fact, it varies from person to person and story to story. Still, there are some basic truths. The key is not to get hung up on the order you follow the steps.
- If you want to get published, you have to write. That seems like a no-brainer. But I’m surprised how many would-be authors want to get published based on having written in the past or potential ideas for the future. Writing is an ongoing craft. You can’t have written last year and then stopped. You need to be writing on a regular basis. Daily if you can. At least weekly if other life is getting in the way.
- If you want to get published, you have to share your work. With the internet at our disposal, that is much easier to do. Write an article for your church’s website. Keep a regular blog. Participate in fan fiction if you read it. If you read (and you should if you’re a writer), write reviews of the books you’ve read on Goodreads and Amazon among others. Enter writing contests that intrigue you. Offer to guest blog for other writers—or writer groups like this one.
- If you want to get published, you have to accept criticism of your work. With my students, I start gently—maybe commenting or marking about half of what I notice. Even this is too much for some of the more fragile among them. Usually, I will pull them aside and first reaffirm what they did well, then explain the reasons for criticism. None of us like it. Pats on the back feel much better. But Biblically speaking, a rebuke (criticism) will make the wise wiser. We also read that iron (one writer) sharpens iron (another writer). Thoughtful and meaningful criticism, used wisely, will make us better writers.
- If you want to get published, you will need to be willing to work with editors. You will note that I didn’t say publishers. Yes, you can still pursue traditional book publishing via a publisher. But whether you self-publish, write for magazines, or work for hire, you will need to interact with editors. The best writer among us still needs another set of eyes to review the work before it goes to print. I am amazed at what manages to slip past multiple reviews… Without those reviews, it would be infinitely worse. So even if you decide to be your own publisher, do yourself a favor and hire an editor.
- If you want to get published, you need to be persistent. The first book you send off isn’t likely to become a bestseller. It does happen, yes, it just isn’t likely. Keep working. Keep writing. Keep sharing. Keep learning and growing. And one day, you’ll look back at your credits and say, “How on earth did God enable me to write—and publish—so much?”
Susan A. J. Lyttek, author of four novels, (fifth under contract!) award-winning writer, blogger, wife and mother to two homeschool graduates, writes in time snippets and in colorful notebooks. She also enjoys training up the next generation of writers by coaching 5th to 12th grade homeschool students at her local co-op. Find out more about her and her projects at www.sajlyttek.com.