If you are a writer, you have no doubt thought long and hard about how to get your wonderful book published. Traditional publishing methods are the obvious choice. You research Literary Agents and Publishing Houses on The Writer's Market. You send out a battery of queries, describing your book as succinctly as humanly possible to tantalize and get attention. You wait for months, and most often, end up with a stack of rejection letters or hear nothing back at all. Not always - but you know you must be prepared for the blow.
The fact is, there are thousands of writers in the world hoping to find a publisher, and publishers are overwhelmed.
Lay your foundation
I am speaking to you from my own experience now.
Probably, like you, I wanted to write the Great International Novel,
but I figured out pretty fast that getting my foot in the door and
making a name for myself as a writer was going to be a
challenge. I decided to create a foundation for myself
and my future works by doing what I do best.
Here's what I did...
Set your writing goal
I spent the first 30 years of my career life as a performer and theatrical director. I have directed over 60 plays and musicals and have taught countless acting classes to students of all ages.
This is where I started. I took what I had learned over the years in theater and acting and began to write short, humorous scenes for my church. I wrote my first scene and tried it out with actors. It worked great and was a wonderful resource. We began doing illustrative scenes every week as a part of worship. I compiled the scenes I had written and submitted them to a Christian Publisher - Lillenas Publishing in Kansas City.
They accepted the first collection in record time. I wrote another series of scenes titled, This is Your Life - and they published those, too.
what color is your parachute?
Do you remember this popular book from 1970 by Richard N. Bolles? It was the quintessential book for job-seekers and has been revised many times over the years to keep its impact relevant. I thought about the basic premise of this book when it came to my writing:
That's how I decided to build a foundation for my writing. I chose to start with what I knew well - even though it had nothing to do with the Great International Novel.
the foundation is laid...
Several years after I wrote the books for Lillenas, I wrote a collection of scenes for my acting students at the theater I run. The scenes were a wonderful resource for developing the stage skills my students needed to learn. They loved performing them, so I wrote more, and more, and...
I submitted my collection of scenes titled, Fractured Fairy Tales for Student Actors to Meriwether Publishing and it was published in 2013. A new collection of my scenes is also being published. The new book is currently titled, Sci-Fi Scenes and Monster Dreams, and will be featured in the Pioneer Drama Services August Catalogue, 2015 (Meriwether/Pioneer Drama Services). Each book was a stepping stone for the next book.
It may have taken several years to accomplish this foundation in traditional publishing, but I now feel I can use it as a springboard for a variety of writing - including the long awaited novel I mentioned earlier, which I have just released titled, "Starring on Bay Street".
I started with what I knew, and did the best I could at sharing my expertise. The markets for my scene books are not HUGE. They are resource books that serve a valuable function for teachers and students alike. But because the market wasn't huge, I had a chance of getting my foot in the publisher's door and of proving that I could write well.
starting small can lead to great rewards
So, think about it. What color is your parachute? What do you know well that you can share with others today? What can you write about that is perfect for a small market publication? Consider building your writing success on the knowledge you already have and when you have established yourself in traditional publishing, you can branch out into bigger markets.
Your path to a successful writing career may have been right in front of you all along. Best of luck!
Jan Peterson Ewen