One of the problems with being a writer is the ever-present threat of publication. You never know when an agent or publisher might turn up wanting to take your writing and get it published.
I know! The very thought sends chills up and down my spine too. I mean, who needs the hassle and potential fame of a published work, be it short story or novel?
There are several tried and true ways to avoid the problem, however. For the sake of brevity I have placed these methods into one of three different classifications.
Avoid Sending Work In Entirely
This is perhaps my favorite way to keep my own work from ever seeing the inside of a book cover. Never let anyone see the work at all. In fact, it’s probably best to never mention that you write in the first place.
On the off chance someone does find out that you’ve written something, you can take some steps to make it look like you’re actively trying to to get published while you’re really just stalling.
- Tell the person in question that you’re taking comments from: editors, critics, critiques, etc and fine-tuning the manuscript to get it publisher/agent worthy. This excuse can keep interested parties quiet for days. Maybe even weeks.
- When asked, say you are researching the market. You are trying to learn who to send it to, how to send it and when to send it. Don’t admit you don’t know where to look because your listener might suggest some publisher web-sites to check out, Writer’s Market books to read or writing groups to join.
- Burst into tears whenever asked if you’ve ever been published. Have some fun with it. You can tell the listener that your last rejection letter left you emotionally scarred and you simply cannot face the rejection again. If your performance is good enough, chances are that person will never ask again.
Make Your Submissions Bad Ones
If you fall into the category of known writer, you may not have the option to stall. If you’re like me, your significant other actually expects you to submit to publishers and agents simply to justify the expense of the MacBook and the time away from the family.
Don’t lose any sleep. I have some tried and true suggestions that will help you stay out of the publishing trap.
- Send in absolute crap. That will pretty much guarantee a rejection. If anyone has suggestions to make the work better, do the opposite. After all, you are the writer, not them, right? Note: This will only work if your significant other does not scrutinize your submission packages.
- Send your work to the wrong market. If you write horror, send it to a romance publisher. Er, wait. Maybe not romance. Have you seen Twilight? Maybe send horror to a literary press instead. Science Fiction to western… No that won’t work either. Shades of Firefly come to mind. I’m sure you can come up with something.
- Do NOT follow submission guidelines, EVER! That will discourage even the most stalwart editor. And while you’re at it, misspell any and all names you come across. Titles too.
- For extra points, if you’re trying to get rejected AND give the publisher/agent an aneurysm, keep sending the same rejected manuscript to the same publisher/agent every time. In fact, and this tip is genius, write your submission letter on the back of the previous rejection letter (thank you to Lizzy Shannon for that piece of gold).
When All Else Fails
There are times when, despite your very best efforts, a publisher or agent offers to represent you/your story. You have ignored the guidelines, sent to the wrong market, misspelled names, but they are desperate and offer you a contract. What do you do then?
You can’t simply say “No” because the significant other will revoke your computer purchasing privileges (and probably several others I won’t mention here). It’s time to play the attitude card. After all, if they want you that badly, they should have to suffer for your art. If you do it right, they won’t ask to publish a second book.
- As the star, no demand is unreasonable. Tell the agent/publisher that they work for you, not the other way around. If you say “jump”, they should ask “How high?”.
- Whenever an edit to your masterpiece is requested, reject it without explanation. Your work is already perfect and you are above such trifles.
- If you are given deadlines, miss them. If you receive any communication, ignore it.
- If you are to make any kind of personal appearance, ask for a dressing room with expensive fruit, water and pampering. Or don’t ask and don’t show up. Even better, demand special treatment, then don’t show up.
Those are the tips and tricks I have for you this week. Follow them and I promise you’ll be able to avoid the headache of getting published. Good luck!
I began an agent search this past week. I thought it might help and it allows me to do two things at once with my stories; I can both submit to publishers and agents since they aren’t competing with each other.
The rewrite is once again in full-swing. I am optimistic that it will be done end-of-month.
“Mik Murdoch” is still at the publisher. They’ve now had it 6 months so I’m preparing to pull the pin on it. My last attempt to get a status on it was ignored.
Deciding where to send “Summer Camp Secrets” next. That will be going out this week.