GPS FOR WRITING
Do you have a GPS in your car or as an APP on your phone? It seems
everyone nowadays has a GPS. Everyone except me and my husband. Before a recent trip up the California coast, I decided we should buy a GPS and take it with us. My husband disagreed, saying the maps we got from AAA would be enough to guide us. When we picked up the rental car, we turned down the rental company’s GPS because we didn’t want to pay $140 when we could buy one for about $50 more. Big, big mistake.
We got lost a lot on that trip. A lot. At one point I was writing a story in my head titled, “A GPS Would Have Saved My Marriage.” We finally calmed down and resigned ourselves to getting lost at times. We missed many of the sights we’d wanted to see, partly because the state of California doesn’t believe in signs, and partly because we didn’t have a GPS. We missed Big Sur, which was one of the main things we’d wanted to see. On the other hand, while lost we stumbled onto Ventura, a true gem of a beach town. Now I know where all the Sixties hippies went. We spent a wonderful, unexpected afternoon in sunny, beautiful, quirky Ventura and decided it was a place in which we could happily live.
What does this have to do with writing? Do you have a GPS for your writing? Do you know what direction you want your writing to take, or are you barreling down the freeway and hoping for the best? When you started writing to sell, did you map out a plan? Did you decide to attend conferences and workshops to learn all you could about the craft of writing? Then, did you write and write and hone your craft? Or did you write with no real direction, feeling you didn’t need to study the market, that your books would find their way to the right publishers, like a GPS you plug in and wait for it to take you somewhere?
I know writers whose plan it is to sell only to a big New York house, and if they don’t, they’ll put their manuscripts into the proverbial drawer rather than go with an epub or a small press. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s their choice. Yet they may be cheating themselves by not recalculating their direction. I can hear that inner editor now going, “Recalculating, recalculating.” What if one of their manuscripts is just a little too out of the box for one of the big houses? Maybe a reputable epub or small press would love it. There are times when you might need to veer off onto small detours. You never know where those detours will take you.
By all means, get back onto the main highway after the detour, but by opening yourself to new roads and to adventure by contracting with an epub or small press, you’ll have a book out there, a book people will want to read. And you’ll have learned a lot about working with an editor. Isn’t that better than keeping the book hidden in a drawer?
On our California trip, we didn’t get to see Big Sur, but we discovered Ventura. And I’m so glad we did. When I started writing, there were one or two epubs and they were very new and earned no respect from the writing community. Like most of my fellow members of RWA, I dreamed of selling to a big NY house. After I was rejected by several big publishers, someone suggested I submit to Avalon Books, a small press. I hadn’t considered a small press. I submitted and I sold to them. My book, a traditional romance, gave me entry into RWA PAN.
Since then, numerous epubs have sprung up. Some fell by the wayside, but many others are thriving. I contracted for my second book, a romantic suspense, with The Wild Rose Press. In GPS terms, I haven’t found Big Sur, the NY publishers, yet, but I found my publishing Ventura, small press and epubs. I’ve still got my original map, and I’m heading down the expressway hoping to someday sell to a large publisher. Meanwhile, I’ve discovered the joys of having my stories out there for others to read and enjoy.
You might have to change direction from time to time, but the important thing is to know where you’re going. Study the market, write what you love, learn all you can and drive forward into that publishing freeway. But be prepared for detours and know those unexpected twists in the road might lead you to a publishing gem.