Are You Wasting Your Time Trying to Get Published?

Writer's Digest (July/August 2011)

Writer's Digest (July/August 2011)

Don’t you wish someone could tell you if you’re wasting your time trying to be a writer? Or if you’re at all close to getting traditionally published—assuming that’s your goal?

In a recent issue of Writer’s Digest, I have a feature article, “Revising Your Path to Publication,” that attempts to address these (rather) unanswerable questions. It’s a helpful article for writers who feel like they’re banging their head against the wall. In a nutshell, here’s what I advise.

Avoid these 5 time wasters

  1. Submitting manuscripts that aren’t your best work.
  2. Self-publishing when no one is listening.
  3. Distributing your work digitally when your audience wants print—or vice versa.
  4. Seeking New York commercial publishing deals for regional or niche work.
  5. Focusing on publishing when you should be writing.

 The 2 things I find MOST relevant to your publication path

  1. How much time you’ve put into writing. Have you put in enough time to get good at it?
  2. How much time you’ve spent reading quality, published work. This helps you learn how to write better AND understand where you might be on the spectrum of quality.

When is it time to change course?

  1. Honestly assess whether your work is commercially viable. Not all work is.
  2. Are readers responding to something you didn’t expect? I see this happen all the time: A writer is working on a manuscript that no one seems interested in, but has fabulous success on some side project.
  3. Are you getting bitter? If you find yourself demonizing people in the publishing industry, taking rejections very personally, feeling as if you’re owed something, and/or complaining whenever you get together with other writers, it’s time to find the refresh button.

Here’s a little piece of hope: If your immediate thought upon reading this blog post headline was something like: I couldn’t stop trying even if someone told me to give up, then you’re much closer to publication than someone who is easily discouraged. The battle is far more psychological than you might think.

If you’d like to read the full-length article (about 2,500 words), then get the Writer’s Digest July/August 2011 issue.

Looking for other posts I’ve written similar to this topic?

Questions? I’m happy to address them in the comments.

 

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Posted in Creativity + Inspiration, Writing Advice.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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