Ever have one of those days (or weeks or months) where it feels as if everyone’s getting published…except you? Seems like some writers have all the luck: they’re getting published regularly, their writing is well-received, and they make it look so easy! It’s enough to make you wonder: What do they know that I don’t?
To find the answers, we asked a group of very well-published writers (our clients!) to share the ONE thing they wish they knew before they figured out what it takes to successfully get their work published.
Here’s the writing and publishing advice they would have offered themselves in the days before they started publishing regularly!
What These Successful Writers Wish They Knew Before They Were Published
Not to be afraid. —Louise Turan
The power of writing every single day no matter what. —Marc Tretin
I learned to be more disciplined in my approach to submissions. Nothing used to be planned; I used to submit to a contest here and there. I didn’t really take my poems seriously…now I’m more mindful of my audience. —Tiffany Bunge
Don’t be discouraged about rejection. Just because a journal says “no,” it doesn’t mean your work is bad; it just means you haven’t found the right home. —Wendy Fox
You have to submit a lot, and I’ve learned that it’s important not to get discouraged when you’re not published immediately. —Clio Contogenis
I wish I knew that it was really okay to send out multiple submissions; I never did that before I started working with [Writer’s Relief]. I used to send my stuff to one place at a time; it was actually all you were supposed to do for many years. Somehow, it felt unethical to me to send my work to more than one place at a time. Once I started working with [Writer’s Relief], I saw that there’s nothing wrong with simultaneous submissions. Your odds are greatly increased; I wish I started working with [Writer’s Relief] sooner. —Lucille Lang Day
It’s a business. When I was starting out as a writer, I assumed the art would win out; that is, if I or Billy Collins submitted the same poem to the same journal—the same words in the same order—we’d have a precisely equal chance at acceptance. Not true. Not even close to true. Now, I’m not naive enough to rail against that. I’ve learned there’s a process to getting published—one with a lot of moving parts; one that needs to be worked. Writer’s Relief helps with that effort in a number of significant ways. —Ken Haas
I think a lot of people focus on getting their stories in the top-end journals and only submit to those journals; I think those people are really missing out. I think, for me, there’s a lot of success to be had if you look beyond those journals. There’s a whole world out there—if you build up with the smaller journals, they can help you get into the top-tier. —Ree Davis
I didn’t know I’d be accepted more than once. It freaked me out a little bit and I felt bad; you hate having to say no to someone. I wish I had been a little prepared for that. I really got thrown the first time; I wasn’t sure what to do. —Kelly Graham
You really have to keep submitting; it’s a good thing to keep doing that, especially to the places where the odds are tougher to get into. I don’t think I appreciated how many times you have to do that; it’s okay to keep submitting to the same places. —Alison Hicks
To be more patient and polish my submissions before sending them out. I rushed into them very fast, and I probably should have slowed down a bit. Don’t rush to send a manuscript that hasn’t been licked clean of any mistakes. —Anonymous
I think you can logically understand that it’s going to take a lot of rejections. But until you’re actually in the cycle and you walk through your piles of rejections, you don’t get how many times it happens. At a point, you start to not care about rejections after you receive so many. —Karen Fayeth
QUESTION for published writers: If you could go back and give your pre-published self one piece of advice, what would it be? Leave your answer for others to read in our comments section.
That before my manuscript is all edited, I have acknowledgment page & dedication ready to go, and online promotion already started.
Truly interesting. I tend to forget really successful writers are human also.
I constantly hear, “keep submitting, don’t worry about rejection, that your manuscript just has not reached the right person.” But is this really true? I feel this may be a little disingenuous…To encourage writers who might be just plain bad writers! Bad storytellers! Not me of course!! But I constantly read the articles that encourage writers to keep trying. But it is rare I see someone say, “Hey, sometimes you have to admit you may not be cut out for this.” From my understanding, in the “old” days, agents would write back suggestions or feedback, and thus writers would be notified of how they stack up to being a writer. Now, we just hear nothing or a basic rejection notice. The industry is not doing itself any favors. For what you get is a lot of crap because no on is stopping bad work from coming down the pike along the way. Ok, so no one wants to hear they are poor writers. But shouldn’t someone tell them? If you are not getting requests for manuscripts after hundreds of rejections….maybe, just maybe, it isn’t good! If I am truly a bad writer, or just don’t have what it takes to be successful, then I want to know! I can then move on and decide to either make my writing better if I really want to be a writer (because no one should discourage you from following your dreams) or try something else.
That I could have done better myself the first time out. Now I wish I had. That small e-publisher has already folded, and I’m starting from scratch all over again.
If you think you need an agent or a big publisher to give you validation, you’re wrong. Just do it. Make a game plan, give yourself a year to accomplish it correctly (editing and GOOD cover design), and self publish.
Nice content! I love to know more about other writers.
I live in Brazil and here is very difficult to publish – we don’t have a lot of literary agents.
Thank you for sharing.