Looking back on the road I took to publication there are several things I’d do differently, if only to have not wasted so much time doing it wrong. Perhaps my tale will help new writers on their path to getting their books published.
In 2009 my daughter came home from school and told me her friend asked her why her mommy didn’t have a job. I had been an at-home mom since I got pregnant with my son in 1993, and realized I had more free time, since both my kids were becoming more independent. So, I thought about what I’d like to do with my life - outside of “mommy-dom”. I went to the Apple store, bought a MacBook, and started writing a book.
Needless to say, that was a backwards way of going about it. I had no clue how to write a book. I started out with an idea and just started writing. First of all, I didn’t know how to format the writing. The book was a bunch of paragraphs interspersed with dialogue. And I didn’t have that much dialogue either. It was a conglomeration of paragraphs wherein I was “telling” a story, like a diary.
Well, we all know what everyone in the book industry tells us, right? “Show, don’t tell”. I quickly found that out, after submitting my completed novel in contests. I entered every contest I could find. Of course, I never made it to any of the finals. In fact, score-wise I was always at the bottom of the list. BUT, I got many very insightful critiques of my work for free! I used the judges’ editing and critiques to my advantage and edited my book - over and over and over.
Then I began taking online classes and read a few books on craft and wrote another novel. But this time I had a little more knowledge under my belt and I employed an editor who is a multi-published author and she had also worked as an agent. That’s something I should have done earlier on in the process, perhaps. But I didn’t realize I needed a personal editor until I had received so many rejection letters from agents that it was obvious that something was wrong.
So, my advice to anyone wanting to write would be: learn about the craft of writing either before or while you’re writing your first book, so you can incorporate that knowledge into your novel. Take a few online classes. They’re usually very cheap, from free to thirty dollars most of the time. More importantly, join an online writing group. When I began my journey I contacted author Christine Feehan. She told me to join Romance Writers of America. After doing so, I was able to join a Romance Writers of America Women’s Fiction group along with other groups online that interested me. The people in these groups are an invaluable source of help with your writing, advice on agents and publishers, and anything else you can think of. And you’ll need the support of other writers while going through the process toward publication. Writing is such a solitary endeavor and rejections by agents should be expected. But I never felt alone because I had my online friends to uplift me when I was down.
Guest post by Patricia Yager Delagrange.
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I attended St. Mary’s College, studied my junior year at the University of Madrid, received my B.A. in Spanish at UC Santa Barbara then went on to get my Master’s degree in Education at Oregon State University. I live with my husband and two teenage children in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, along with our two very large chocolate labs, Annabella and her son Jack.
My horse lives in the Oakland hills in a stall with a million dollar view.
Patricia will award a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour and to the host with the most comments (excluding the author's and the host's). So I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2012/04/virtual-book-tour-moon-over-alcatraz-by.html