Don’t be Afraid to Help

Anyone who has ever tried to get his/her work in print knows how tough (virtually impossible?) it is to do.  Publishers and agents are inundated with dozens/hundreds of submissions every month; how can they possibly separate the wheat from the chaff?

I’ve heard many times that a manuscript must be truly exceptional to be considered.  That raises the question for me, how many first books fit that description?  Often the reason an author’s second book is better than the first is because the author has had the chance to go through the editing process.  Without the first book you as an author may never get the second book chance.

Granted, you can always hire an editor to work through the book with you, but that means you are spending hundreds of dollars to edit something that a publisher may not be interested in anyway.  So what is the answer?

Then the next question comes to mind.  You manage to get your work accepted and put into print.  Now what?  How do you publicize that fact?

Lots of questions and, so far, no answers.  The thing I want you to take away from these questions is that they are not unique to you.  These questions are common to pretty much every author who has ever tried to get their work into print.

So what is my point?

Where I’m going with this is that since it is a common problem why are authors trying to solve it on their own?  If every fledgling author has to reinvent the wheel, will we ever move forward?

I would propose that instead of trying to solve the problem individually we should band together.  This is not an original idea, by-the-way.  Many podcasting authors regularly call upon their fans to help them out by promoting their stories in various ways.

If you know of an author, agent or publisher who needs some help, strongly consider doing it.  It is entirely possible that whomever you help may not reciprocate in kind, but then, they might too.  Your help could really improve another writer’s sales.  It could also increase your visibility.  Who knows, it might even get your foot in the door with a publisher or agent.

What kind of help am I talking about?  There are several things you can do.  At its simplest, you can review an author’s book on a site like Amazon (you can review podcasts and podiobooks on iTunes and other places too).  You can blog about books or you can podcast about them.  You might interview authors (both print and podcast).  You can even offer to help with promotion by talking to people.

Really, anything goes that improves the recognition of an author and his or her books.

If you’re lucky, when your turn comes (and it could happen sooner because of your help) the people you helped might just turn around and help you in return.  And since they’ve already blazed a trail and grown an audience, it might work even better than the promotion you did.

Personal Update

I had two responses come back from a couple submissions I had out there.  The first was a ‘No thank you’ letter from a publisher.  What made the letter so nice was that it was not a form letter saying ‘thanks but no thanks’.  This letter was quite obviously written by the publisher and was very kind in the way it said ‘No’.  It was obvious to me that the story was enjoyed but was not quite what that publisher was looking for.

The second response was a “We liked what we saw and want to read more”.  As you might imagine, that was a very positive note for me.  I had the full manuscript sent out about an hour later.  I am trying to only be cautiously optimistic.

I have also managed to finish the full rewrite of my fantasy novel.  Now I just have a few minor edits to complete.

It has been a good week.  I hope yours is too.


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