I was reading through some of my favorite blogs on writing and one that caught my eye was on the frustrations of authors constantly telling writers how and what to write and never how to get published. So for Writing Wednesday I wanted to write about how I got my two short stories published. Yes I am working on novels and double yes on being rejected by publishers but it’s all apart of the learning experience.
When many aspiring writers look for advice on publishing he/she is looking for how to format the stories so it will be accepted by the publisher. The format in which the story is submitted is only a small part of getting an editor to notice you. The story is the most important part and it must be clearly told. This post is how to get published not how to format a story so your story gets accepted and published. If formatting was all it took many aspiring authors would be published and not have piles of rejection letters.
I write in a very niche market. The LGBT community of writing and writers is very tight and can be just as hard to break into as some of the more mainstream publishers. Most of this has to do with the limited audience and limited amount of publishers in LGBT romance. At the end I will include a list of some of the more known LGBT publishers if you are interested in submitting your short story, novella, or novel to them. Read what authors have to say about working with each publisher before you decide to submit your story, there are usually ups and downs to every one of them.
I’m going to tell this story again but the first time I started writing gay romance I had no idea if there was even an author who had done it before. That’s when I started looking online and discovered a wonderful community that writes LGBT romance and erotica. This was the start to me building my writing career.
The first thing I did was start this blog. I wanted a way to start building a small community of followers to know that my writing was reaching at least a few. I was ecstatic when I got my first follower and to this day still jump around the room excited when someone follows my blog, likes a post, or leaves a comment.
A community my blog started, I was invited to join another author in co-writing a story and join a community of LGBT authors all located in Colorado. This was the start of the Out in Colorado anthology. I was also asked by author to join in on the charitable anthology Lost & Found. In other words, I was lead to publishers with the help of another author. Since this is a small community it is a great way to get in by knowing other authors. But I have known several authors who submit their work and are excepted because of their story not because of who they know.
Let’s move to rejections. I know there are several posts on rejections and how writers should react to them. Many say ignore them and keep writing. I like this advise but it also gives aspiring authors the hope that their writing is worth publishing, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. In the LGBT world of writing many of the publishers are kind enough to reject a story with a list of why it was turned away. This rejection letter should not be tossed aside but taken to heart. If an editor took the time to write down how the story could be fixed writers need to take that as a sign that the story needs help and with a little more love could be published.
I have read several books on how to write and how to get published. This makes me far from an expert and I know that every authors story into publishing is different. Never forget that publishers want a good story! Never think that your story is good enough. Make it better. Read the submission page and format your submission exactly as they are asking for, this is not a deal breaker for all publishers, actually many publishers will take a great story over perfect formatting. This does NOT mean you should slack in the formatting, grammar, or spelling! If you are rejected try another publisher because it could be sincerely not what that publisher is looking for and another publisher could love it. Every time you get a rejection go back to the story and see what could be fixed, edit it again and again. Get beta readers to help! Beta readers are readers that will read your story before you send it off to a publisher. Some are paid, some will do it for free, but reach out to writing groups to see if anyone will help make your story that much better.
Many stories are rejected because they want the story nearly publishable from the moment the editor reads it for the first time. It is vital that you EDIT your stories. There are authors who turn in the first draft, some are lucky enough to get accepted but when it comes to editing time they are trapped with the back and forth between the editor and rewriting the story over and over again. Make it easier on yourself and your editor by editing the story before you submit.
You have to remember that you are the closest person to your story. You know your characters, you see the world they live in and how everything plays out. This doesn’t mean that what you wrote down tells the same story. This might come as a surprise but editors and readers cannot read your mind! This is why it’s so important to read more, learn more, and edit more. Keep growing as a writer, don’t think that what you wrote the first time is the best story ever written, there is always room to grow.
So join a community, get rejected, get published, keep growing, and keep writing!