Saturday, June 02, 2012

What's So Hard About Climbing A Mountain?

"If you don't know it's impossible, it's easier to do."
~ Neil Gaiman

When I first set my boot heel on Mount I'm-Going-To-Write-A-Novel, I had no idea how strenuous the trek would be. Good thing. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Still, it would've been nice if I'd had a sherpa or two to help me out.

So as you climb your way to the top of the publishing mountain, here are 5 slippery slopes you should definitely avoid...

Don't expect to sell your first manuscript.
Come on. Admit it. You know you did. I'm just as guilty. I wrote my first novel out of pride, thinking I could do better than the lame fluff I'd been picking off the bookstore shelves. Who wouldn't buy something so compelling, it'd have housewives feeding their families frozen pizza for dinner because they just couldn't put my book down? Who wouldn't want to read something different? Publishers, that's who.

Your second manuscript is just as iffy.
The brutal truth is, even your second try at knocking out the Great American Novel might not attract a whole lot of interest either. Why? Because great writing takes practice--and lots of it. There's no shortcut to learning the craft so well that it becomes an integral part of you.

Just because you acquire an agent doesn't mean you've got an open door to every publisher.
Don't get me wrong. Agents are great. In fact, I love my agent. Still, as great as she is, the acquisitions editor at Harper Collins isn't exactly one of my friends on Facebook yet. 

Contracts don't necessarily multiply like Tribbles.
Contracts are helpful and cuddly little creatures, but they don't guarantee siblings. One contract does not always lead to the next. The only thing certain about the publishing industry is that it's not certain.

Getting published doesn't put an end to rejections.
Hate to burst your bubble on this one, but I don't care if you're insert-famous-author-of-your-choice. If your next story doesn't dazzle and your writing isn't top notch, then you're going to get a rejection just like all the other plebians out there.

Ultimately it's not impossible to land a three-book deal, but it is easier if you learn the trade and network with others in the industry. Writing is an uphill journey, but wowzer...what a view!

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas…professionally, however, for the past 10 years. Her latest release, UNDERCURRENT, is available by Risen Books. You can find her at: Writer Off the or on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.


Ane Mulligan said...

Maybe I should hire a Sherpa.

Michelle Griep said...

Hey, we could go in on one together. Wonder if there's a Groupon???

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Thanks for sharing, Michelle! A lotta truth in that post! At least today, unlike 30 years ago when I first submitted a novel (with 21 rejections when I stopped counting and went back to grad school) you can submit electronically. Have a blessed day!

Michelle Griep said...

E-mail does save a lot of postage, eh? Hmm. Wonder if we can count the USPS as a sherpa???

Gina Holmes said...

Good and true words Michelle. I was trying to explain to a wanna be novelist just today how even the biggest named authors still deal with rejection even if the last book made the NYT list. It's an ever more part of being a writer.