Writers' Group Discussion
I recently joined a writers' message board and one of the questions posed was about publishing. Was having your book published a right or a privilege? I posted my thoughts and someone sent a copy of my post to me suggesting that I post it where other writers could read it.
What do you think?
I’m not sure I’d agree that having my manuscript accepted by a mainstream publisher is either a right or a privilege. Publishing is a business and I’m submitting my application (manuscript) to be considered just as I would with any other type of job.
To be accepted, I have to have certain qualifications. And no, to be published, I do not have to have a college degree in anything. But what is mandatory is that I have certain skills:
Knowledge of what’s selling and what isn’t. That’s always a hard one to figure out.
Knowledge of the skills necessary to tell my story in a certain way that will entice the public to read my story and make the publisher money.
That’s the bottom line. Can I tell my story in a way that makes it enjoyable for the reader to pay money for my book and read it? And have I acquired the skills necessary for that reader to not only read that book but look forward to the next one?
Each step of the process takes skill: The Hook, Scene, Sequel, Plot Points, POV issues, just to name a few, all things that are necessary to keep a manuscript from committing the worse sin of all:
I’ve heard agents say they can tell in the first few paragraphs whether the manuscript is worth reading. Some say it only takes a few sentences. Well, I’ve been editing and working with writers for so many years that now I too, can tell in the first few paragraphs whether or not the writer has any knowledge of the craft.
And the ‘rules’ of the craft aren’t just to make a writer’s life miserable; they’ve been developed as tools to keep the story interesting.
The Hook, for instance:
Next time you go into a bookstore, casually watch the browsers. Chances are they, like me, will pick up a book because of the cover or the author, read the back cover blurb, then flip open the book and read the first few paragraphs. If those first few paragraphs do not grab the browser, back the book goes to the shelf and the browsers picks up another.
Writing an effective hook takes skill. Developing suspense, something all manuscripts need, takes skill. Suspense is not just for mysteries and thrillers. It’s that ingredient needed to keep that reader glued to your book even when they know they should be sleeping, washing clothes, running errands. Suspense can be found in all the good writers whether the book is a thriller, a romance, or even a family saga. It takes skill, like any other profession.
It’s only when the writer has developed that skill can s/he expect mainstream publishers to take them seriously.
What do you think?