I was looking through some files last evening and ran across a Guest Blog post that I'd done for my writer friend, Jennie Helderman, author of As The Sycamore Grows, almost five years ago. I'm reposting it as it has some valid points for writers. Some of this you've heard me say more than once, but if that's the case, then it must be important. Right?
Guest Blog I Wrote for Jennie Helderman
Thanks, Jennie, for asking me to be your first guest blogger. I could write three words that cover the topic I’ve selected, but readers might not be satisfied with such brevity, even though the words are pretty self-explanatory. Send it out!
Your work may never be published, nor will you ever be paid, if you don’t send your stories, essays, articles or poems to an editor. It sounds so simple. Write a story, study a market guide, send the story to an acquisitions editor and wait for the acceptance.
When I was a newbie writer, I joined a critique group that met twice a month. Tom, the moderator of the group, and also the only published writer, constantly encouraged the members to send their work to editors. “No editor is going to climb in your bedroom window and search in your top dresser drawer for your manuscript.” He said it so often that I began to believe him. Send it out became our mantra, and the more I heard it, the more I believed it.
I was a late bloomer—didn’t start writing until well into my fifties. The desire to write had been there for many years, but I let Life get in the way. Because of that late start, I felt I needed to make up for lost time.
I studied market guides and sent my work to editors with high hopes, trying not to be discouraged when the rejection letters shot back into my mailbox like bullets from a high-powered rifle. Every now and then, an acceptance would arrive.
I began with no-pay websites and moved on to paying ezines and anthologies. Did I get rejections? You bet I did. Lots of them. But, my nonfiction stories are in nine Chicken Soup for the Soul books, two Guideposts anthologies, and a few others. The successes I had encouraged me to keep submitting my work. I tried some newspapers whose content aimed for senior citizens. Since I’m one of them, it seemed a natural. And sure enough, they liked what I sent. I’ve become a regular in one. I’ve written articles on the craft of writing for several writers’ newsletters. I’ve even sold a few pieces of fiction.
None of that would have happened if I hadn’t sent my work to all those editors. “Send it out!” I hear Tom’s words in my mind when I’ve written something and am satisfied that it is a finished product. So I send it out.
There are reasons that some writers don’t send their work to an editor. Their files are filled with writing that no eyes but their own have ever seen.
- Fear of rejection: Nobody likes rejection, but it’s a part of the writing game. Remember that it isn’t you personally that is being rejected. Maybe your story isn’t right for that particular publication
- Not knowing how to study a market guide: The more you read marketing material, the better you become at selecting the right editor.
- It’s hard work: Yes, it is, so you must decide how great a desire you have to see your work published.
- Fear of success: This one may sound laughable, but it can happen. If you succeed once, you’re compelled to do it again. And what happens if you become famous? It’s a very real fear for some people.
- Lack of confidence: Doubt runs rampant in a writer’s mind. Most writers question their own worth at times.
Look through your files and pick three finished pieces to send out. If one or all are returned, send them out again. If you get three rejections on one story, it’s time to look at it with objective eyes and revise. Then send it out again. John Grisham sent his blockbuster novel The Firm, to twenty-six publishers before it sold. We can all learn a lesson from that. Send it out and take a healthy dose of patience and perseverance along the way.