Please help us welcome author Traci Hunter Abramson to the blog.
She is the author of several suspense novels, including her newest release, Royal Secrets, which is available now. Traci is a talented author, supportive wife and mother, and hard-working swim coach who also used to work for the CIA. How cool is that?
Don’t forget to leave a comment!
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Every published author who has ever interacted with fans can give you multiple accounts of someone asking the question, “How did you get published?” More often than not, the real question hovering between the lines is “How can I get published?”
I remember all too well wondering that exact same question. In fact, many authors who are already published still worry if their next creations will find their way into print or if they will face a dreaded rejection letter… or rejection email or phone call.
So how does one get published? It’s an excellent question, one I really don’t know how to answer. I got published by going to the nearest LDS bookstore and browsing the shelves in search of a publisher. Okay, maybe it was a little more complicated than that, but this really is where I started.
This is also when I had a revelation of sorts. At the time I was looking for any publisher that might help my work get into print, but what I needed to do was look for the right publisher, the publisher that would best fulfill my needs.
So what was I looking for? First, I wanted a publisher that was strong in fiction. Even as a beginning writer, I knew I was a novelist first and foremost. Second, I looked for a company who was open to sequels. I already had a sequel started and knew that I wanted to write a series. Third, I searched for a company that produced products similar to the novel I had written. The only LDS publisher that was a perfect match at the time was Covenant Communications. That was eleven books ago.
I’d love to say that I ran home that day, packaged up my book and sent it off, but that isn’t exactly how things happened. Even as an unpublished, inexperienced novelist, I knew I wasn’t ready yet.
I did rush home, within the posted speed limits of course, and start preparing my book for publication. I looked up Covenant’s publication guidelines, prepared the required submission materials, and edited my novel for the thousandth time. With a lot of prayers and anxiety, I finally put my beloved manuscript into the mail.
And then I waited. And waited. And waited some more. The four months that was posted as the turn around time came and went. Every day for months I watched and waited for the mailman to arrive, always rushing out to the mailbox hoping for news.
Finally, after my patience was long gone and my nerves were strained beyond all reasonable stress levels, I forced myself to pick up the phone, determined to find out where my book was in the review process. As it turned out, I spoke with our beloved Valerie Holladay who the publishing world was saddened to lose this past year. Valerie said that my book had just reached the top of her pile and promised to take a look.
We spoke a week later and I was a little unsure how to take her mixed reviews. She told me that my story was captivating, but that my characters needed work. She likened them to a ditch. I had taken them two feet down into the ditch, but she wanted to see what they looked like if I dug that ditch ten feet deep. So I started digging. And digging. For a year I dug, rewriting and editing until I felt like I couldn’t edit any more.
Finally, with the blessing of my longtime editor and sister-in-law, I put the manuscript in the mail. Exactly one month later, I received a phone call from Shauna Humphreys, Valerie Holladay’s successor at Covenant. Good thing I was sitting down, because I definitely hadn’t expected her to call me after only one month to give me the news. The publisher I had chosen had also chosen me.
That is my little success story, and here is the advice I have given to others based on my limited experience of trying to get published:
1. Find someone to read your work, someone who will give you HONEST feedback. If you only want people to tell you how good your writing is, only show it to your mother and then put it back in a drawer.
2. Edit, edit, and edit some more. Make your work the absolute best that you are capable of creating. An editor’s job is not to teach authors how to write, but rather to improve those who have already taken the time to learn to write.
3. Research the market to find a publisher who meets your needs, and one you think will be a good fit for your work. It is a waste of everyone’s time to send your fabulous novel to a publisher who doesn’t produce work that is in your genre.
4. FOLLOW THE PUBLISHER’S SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. This should be so obvious, but I often hear people in the publishing world tell me that authors frequently think they are the exception to the rule. Following the published guidelines is your first opportunity to show your prospective publisher that you are a profession, one they might be interested in developing a future.
5. Finally, enjoy the journey. No matter what the publishing world thinks of what you’ve created, the miracle of starting with an idea and ending with a completed manuscript is an accomplishment, one to be proud of regardless of what follows.
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Thank you, Traci!
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