Today, while preparing notes for an upcoming presentation, “Publishing and Marketing Your Fiction”, I reflected on past experiences as both an attendee and a speaker at workshops and conferences. So often the topics that draw an audience of writers pertain to finding an agent, signing with a publisher, marketing to the masses, achieving literary stardom, etc. Presentations on improving writing technique just don’t offer the same glamour or promise of fame and fortune. Next week I plan to give my audience at Lone Star College practical information on the business of getting published—tips on query letters, loglines and pitches, press kits, online promotions, and in-store signings. Glamour and fortune I can only talk about theoretically. A slight pressure is also on me to deliver my information succinctly at the outset of the talk, which will be filmed for the college TV station. Then I hope to open up discussion with the other writers and aspiring writers on the passions that compel us.
Before the immeasurable thrill of receiving a publishing contract—followed by the careful work of reviewing edits, rewriting, and proofing—and before the joy of holding the finished book in your hands—followed by the endless job of book promotion, comes the writing, itself. In the years leading up to my first productions and publications as a playwright and novelist, I asked myself: “If you knew for certain that your work would never, ever sell, would you still write?” “Yes,” I answered. (Even without hope, I hope.) While elated by publication, production, recognition, and reviews, I find the deepest satisfaction in the act of creating a fictional world.
Still, writing is hard for me and time-consuming, and the success of it, however that success may be measured, is uncertain. For those who hope to be published, I can share from experience that it is important to study craft, behave with professionalism, adapt to changing technologies and markets, and be very patient with yourself and others. Agents may or may not make dreams come true —sometimes they shop a manuscript to the few big houses and, if it doesn’t sell to one of those, lose interest in it. Editors may love books, but they may also change publishing houses or leave the business, and the books they love are sometimes left orphaned and unpublished. Rejection letters arrive, and you may find it hard to keep saying yes to your writing while others say no. But writers persevere, and sometimes something wonderful happens. For me, that something turned out to be a contract with Kunati Inc., a young, innovative independent publisher, who matches creative writing with creative marketing. How we reach readers and audiences keeps changing, while storytelling and hope endure.