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Getting Published

How Do You Get Dramatic or Creative Writing Published?

Most, if not all, writers write to be read.

The ideal way to be read is to have your story, poem or novel published.  However, only the lucky few are able to get their first novel published. In these final notes (taken from our creative writing course), we will consider the different options for publishing and useful creative writing resources.

Resources
Writers can draw on two levels of support for their writing and writing careers:

  • inner resources, such as creativity, persistence, self-discipline, good skills, experience, knowledge, empathy, and
  • a real interest in the world around them; and outer resources, which are the people and environments that constitute the writer’s support system.

What’s Needed for Success?
Success as a writer means different things to different people. For some, success is to simply have people read and appreciate what they write; and the readers might be no more than friends and/or family.

For others, the goal may be far more ambitious: to have books or articles published and sold, and read by tens of thousands of people.

Writing is a Business
Writing is only part of the business of being a writer. If your aim is to be published, and be read by the “masses”; you need to understand and recognise what is involved in the publishing business as a whole.

You should also recognise from the beginning that success does not always come to those who deserve it; and a certain amount of luck is probably going to be involved no matter how skilled or well educated you are.

Successful writers are not just those who write well; but more often than not,
they are also people who happen to be in the right place at the right time.

If you hope to make a complete or partial living from creative writing, or to make it your career, you can improve your prospects by developing good sources of information and support.

These will help you achieve two main goals:

  1. To become a better, more effective writer, and
  2. To sell and/or publish what you write.

An important aspect of being a writer is the development of a network of relationships, contacts and resources to support your writing and career. Support from family and friends is invaluable, for they can offer nurturing, help create a suitable writing environment, and help you identify your writing strengths and weaknesses by giving honest opinions of your work.

Other resources
Writers’ guides, books and articles on writing and publishing
These can be found in most public libraries, in university libraries (where you may read them even if you are not a student there), in writing magazines, in local writing clubs, in the Arts sections of some newspapers, and in the occasional newspaper or magazine article.

Publishing houses and publishers
Writers should conduct their own research to identify publishers who might be interested in their kind of writing. Different publishers will have their own areas of special interest, and their own requirements. Many list their requirements on guide sheets for authors, or even on their web pages. Authors, especially those starting out, should investigate these requirements to find publishers most likely to welcome and publish their kind of writing. Also, publishers can teach authors a lot about writing, what it takes to get works published, and what publishers look for. Many authors owe their careers to the vision and perception of dedicated publishers. This is one reason that writers should work hard to establish relationships with publishers by submitting works, responding positively and productively to their advice, criticism or suggestions, and persisting in the face of many rejections.

Writing clubs, societies, professional or amateur associations
Local writing groups can provide good opportunities to discuss, share and develop your own writing. Check the phone book for writing associations and groups in your area, and use them to expand your network of contacts and resources.

Book shows and exhibitions
There are several very important annual book markets and shows held in various countries. Publishers, book sellers and book buyers come from all over the globe to these events, which play a pivotal role in defining the current book market and trends. However, smaller shows and exhibitions are held in many countries, and will give you an idea of what is selling and what is in demand. These are also good places to meet people in the publishing industry.

Trade shows and exhibitions
To research what kinds of specialist publications are produced, and by whom, and also to get ideas for writing projects in fields that interest you, attend trade shows and exhibitions. These can take place in large venues such as exhibition centres and show grounds, or in smaller venues such as shopping centres.

Commercial organisations and businesses
If your skills lie in advertising or persuasive writing, or you have knowledge and skills to share, consider researching businesses and organisations to discover opportunities to write and/or publish and promote your writing.

Government departments
Government departments are useful sources of information, and can be very useful to writers who are researching topics for articles or fiction writing. Also, governments often offer grants or other support for the arts, and a writer would be wise to keep track of them.

Personal contacts
Networking is a most effective way of letting others know what you can do, and that you are looking for writing or publishing opportunities. People with writing or publishing experience are important contacts, well worth nurturing, and will frequently help new writers. To avoid irritating or offending them, observe some basic rules of networking etiquette, such as:
• Establish a variety of contacts so that you are not over-dependent on one or two.
• Be sincere, honourable, and truthful in all your dealings.
• Respect others’ privacy and time in your words and actions.
• Look for ways to return favours and be of service – offer to do research or typing.
• Take a real interest in them and their work, not just in what they can do for you.
• Be humble and learn from others, even if you think you know it all.
• Contact busy people by letter or email first to avoid disruption to their schedules.
• Read an author’s work or a publisher’s products before you contact them.
• Acknowledge and say thank you for all assistance.

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