Writing can be a very lonely process. Just you and that blank piece of paper. It doesn’t matter if it’s actual paper or virtual paper. You work and you toil and you think and you create and finally you finish your magnum opus. Then you revise, polish, revise again, polish some more and there it is! Your finished manuscript! So now you want someone (like me) to wave my magic wand and voila! You’re published. WAKE UP!!! It just ain’t gonna happen that way. I mean maybe it will, but most probably not.
So what should you do? How can you increase your chances of 1. finding an agent; 2. getting your manuscript published, and 3. being a great writer?
Let’s start with #3. I know you may not want to hear this, but just because you’ve written a whole manuscript (which, by the way, is an amazing thing!) doesn’t mean it should or will get published. You don’t actually have an objective opinion about your own work, so you don’t even know if it’s any good. (Stop that. You really don’t.) How can you get an objective opinion of your work? Well, don’t give it to your friends or family, because not only won’t they know what’s good and what’s not, they are also not objective. I promise you. As soon as they start reading, knowing it’s your work, they will think it’s great. Even if it sucks. So you can’t count on them to provide you with good feedback in order to improve your work.
So here’s what you want to do: Join something. Take a writing class, if you can. Join a critique group. Or, best of all, join a writing organization where you can meet other like-minded people. Personally, I’m a member of the New York chapter of the Women’s National Book Association (the original WNBA!). Below is a list of writing organizations (in no particular order). Find one that suits you and your writing and join it. Many of them have relatively inexpensive yearly dues. And below those I’ve listed websites that every writer absolutely should know about. Get involved and do your homework. I’ll get to #2 & #3 later this week…
Romance Writers of America http://www.rwa.org/
Mystery Writers of America http://www.mysterywriters.org/
Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America http://www.sfwa.org/
Horror Writers Association http://www.horror.org/
Garden Writers Association http://www.gardenwriters.org/gwa.php?p=index.html
Western Writers of America http://www.westernwriters.org/
International Thriller Writers http://thrillerwriters.org/
PEN American Center http://www.pen.org/index.php
Historical Novel Society http://www.historicalnovelsociety.org/
International Women’s Writing Guild http://www.iwwg.org/
Women’s National Book Association http://www.wnba-books.org/
Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators http://www.scbwi.org/
Preditors & Editors http://pred-ed.com/
Publishers Marketplace http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/
Publishers Weekly http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/home/index.html
Query Tracker http://querytracker.net/
Writer’s Digest http://www.writersdigest.com/