Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Q&A with Kylie Brant, Part 8 - Insider's look, Advice

Question:
Anything you know now that you wish you knew when you were first working to get published? Anything about the business? About your craft?

Kylie's Answer:
Ummm, try everything I was woefully ignorant. Didn't belong to any writing organizations. Didn't know anyone who was writing. And the Internet hadn't been born yet :) I did know there was an organization around called RWA because I read it in several author bios. But had no idea how to go about contacting them. I just decided one summer to write a book. Did so, and then spent a few months polishing it before opening the cover of one of the IMs (Intimate Moments, back in the day) and getting an address for Silhouette so I could get their phone number. :) Called them up and told a very snooty receptionist that I had a manuscript I wanted to send in and asked how to go about it. She's the one who told me about tip sheets and query letters (very long sufferingly, I might add!) Soooo, yeah, I knew nothing. Not about the industry, the business, craft...

I banged out my first manuscript on an Apple IIGs on that paper that had a duplicate page on the back, and perforated sides that had to be torn off? The first thing Leslie Wainger told me when she bought me was to join RWA. The second was to get an ink jet printer I learned everything the hard way.

I didn't know that you were expected to just write a proposal (or even what that was) for your subsequent sales. Wrote the first six on completes until Leslie Wainger threw a fit I chose to do that after I found out about proposals because I didn't want deadlines to take away time with my kids. But I wish I would have known what kind of publishing schedule is required to really establish a readership.

Basically, I just wish I'd known *anything*!


Question:
Any advice you'd like to pass on to aspiring authors?

Answer:
Oh, I'm full of advice :)

1) Finish the manuscript! I'm often shocked at how many unfinished works aspiring writers say they have. That's fine when you're learning craft, but once you're out of beginner's stage, you need to start practicing manuscript completion. You have to learn how to slog through that sagging middle, how to unsnarl plot tangles, and basically how to get over the hurdles along the way to The End. That's what published writers have to do, and they do under deadline. (Hey, that could be a T-shirt!) You won't really know what it is to be a writer until you start completing the books start to finish.

2) If you get an invitation to submit--do it! Again, appalled when friends come back from an author pitch at RWA all full of excitement about their invitation...and never follow through. What was the point of the meeting then? You don't want to spend so much time polishing the manuscript that the editor will have forgotten you and your pitch.

3) Use contests for cheap feedback on your writing. Yes, you need to develop a thick skin. But that will come in handy when you're submitting to editors!

4) Remember that the first sale, while a reasonable goal for an aspiring author, is just a starting point. To have a career, authors have to *stay* published. So the work of honing your craft, staying up on the market, reading thoroughly in the lines targeted--that doesn't end.

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