I had to buy a new microwave yesterday. Our old one definitely needed to be replaced. It would take six minutes to cook a tiny bowl of mashed potatoes, only work half the time and the rest of the time it would turn on for two seconds before powering off. This new one is all fancy and has neat buttons and cooks everything in record time.
And this is my awful example for writing. Editors want writers like new microwaves - lots of power, lots of fresh ideas, quick at producing quality work. They do not want writers like old microwaves - slow to complete anything and only really giving you something good 50% of the time.
So, when you've never been published, how do you prove to a publisher that you are a good writer?
Two ways - practice writing until you get carpel tunnel syndrome and go to writing conferences until you've met everyone in the business.
There's a very well-known myth out there that if you just write a book, it will probably get published and you'll make zillions of dollars. Ask anyone attempting to get a book published and you'll learn, A) That's not true, and B) There's truth to the "Starving Writer" saying.
Like everything else, writing takes time, hard work and dedication. You have to commit to spending hours upon hours a day staring at an artificially lit screen, downing coffee by the pot and trying to come up with fresh ideas and the will power to finish your book.
Still interested? :) Yay!
That being said, writing is probably the best, most amazing, fun "job" I have ever had. I get to spend all day being creative and finding out what is going to happen in my stories. I love it!
So how do you get published?
First, finish your story. There's a general rule in the publishing world (which has been broken several times) that a first-time book writer needs to finish their book before they'll even be considered for publication. Why? So the publisher hasn't lost thousands of dollars when you announce that you can't finish the book and you've decided to not be a writer after all.
Once you've finished the book, go to writer's conferences. The Christian Writer's Guild has an excellent conference in Colorado Springs, but if you just Google "Christian Writers Conferences" you will most likely find one close to you.
Here's where it gets fun! Go to these conferences and listen. Ask editors and publishers questions. Find out what is selling, what isn't, what plots they never want to see again. At the CWG conference, you can sign up for 15-minute one-on-one meetings with publishers. Realize what a valuable thing this is - you have the attention of an acquisitions editor at a major publishing house focused on you. Use the time wisely.
Talk to other authors. Find out what they are writing, what they've learned about the process. What do they love about writing? What do they hate? How do they push through those last five chapters to finish a book?
Don't be afraid of rejection. There are hundreds of reasons a publisher says no that don't have anything to do with the quality of your writing. They might already have authors who write the genre, they might not be accepting any new stories for the rest of the year, the market might not currently be open to whatever you are writing. Press on! God has given you this talent for a reason!
Above all else, know this: If God has given you a desire to write, a love of writing and the talent, then it is your calling to work as hard as you can to use that gift. Just like a musician doesn't pick up a guitar and become a world famous artist the next day, you have to work and work and practice and practice and market yourself over and over and over again.
It all pays off though, on that day when the publisher calls you and says, "We would like to offer you a contract!"
I have a few interviews lined up with some amazing people and I can't wait to share the answers with you! I'll be sharing those over this next week.