Publishing a Poem

Good Morning,

My name is [Bob]. I wrote a poem called, “[Bob’s [Poem]” . The poem was electronically filed online to the US Copyright Office in Washington, DC … where I paid $35.  Once it was copyright to the U.S. Copyright Office, I sent this information to the news media, and Oprah Winfrey, and CNN network, just to see their response.

Please tell me what you think about my … poem. [atttached] I would like to get the poem published. The information concerning everything about the poem is in the attachment.

Thank you!

I don’t review work here at this site. I also don’t help to get specific projects published—except for the Christmas Short Story Contest and their resulting anthologies.

In general, your best bet to publish a poem is through a magazine that publishes poetry. Go to your local library and look at the current year’s Poet’s Market or Writer’s Market. Look through that to find magazines that use the type of poetry you’ve written. Follow their guidelines to submit.

Children’s Picture Books

Thanks for taking the time to write your blog.  I’m just getting my feet wet in the publishing world, and you have given me a place to start.  I have written a children’s picture book.  I’ve been rejected by three publishers so far, and searched dozens of other LDS publishers who are not accepting submissions in this genre.  Would you please direct me?  I don’t know what to do next.

The difficulty with picture books is they cost more to produce and yet the expected sales are lower than books for adults.

Extra costs for a picture book include the cost of illustrations, which can run in the thousands of dollars if they hire a really good illustrator, plus the cost of full color printing, which can be double or more than a book with no color on the pages.

In order for a publisher to justify the risk, you’re going to have to have a pretty awesome story line or be an established author with a large following to guarantee sales.

What you need to look for is a publisher who specializes in picture books. I don’t know if your content is specifically LDS, but if it isn’t, or if it can be changed to reflect general Christian ideas, you might want to try a Christian publisher. (Google “Christian Picture Book Publisher).

I’m not sure what to advise your for specific LDS content… Readers? Ideas?


Common Reasons for Rejections

Hello, [my trilogy] was just turned down by deseret publishing on my first book of this project. I’m 75% done with the second book and will then immediately complete the third of the trilogy. There has never been books like these as they are unique and experientially based. Can you help me?

It is not at all uncommon to be rejected on your first book and by the first publisher you contact. Don’t give up.

The most common reason books are rejected is that they are not a good fit for the publisher. Read the publisher’s submission guidelines carefully. Make sure the publisher you are submitting to is interested in your genre and topic. Make sure they publish things similar, but not the same as what you’re submitting.

The second most common reason for rejection is that the book is just not quite publication ready. Get some critiques on your manuscript. Join a critique group with experienced writers. Go to some conferences that offer critique sessions. Make sure your book is as good as it can possibly be.

The third most common reason for rejection is your query letter isn’t quite up to what it should be. Saying things like, “There has never been books like these as they are unique and experientially based,” is not really very helpful. Unique how? What specifically do you meant by “experientially based”? Is that experiential component going to add to the cost of creating the book? That might be an issue (or not).

And I can guarantee, the publisher/editor/agent is going to have seen something like it before.

Do your research and keep submitting. Good luck!

Looking for an LDS Publisher with National Marketing

Hi, I’m a fiction writer. I want to query one or more of the LDS publishers, but I don’t know which ones are the largest and with which one I would have the best chance of getting into the national market. I have already been rejected by Shadow Mountain. I’m thinking Covenant or Cedar Fort. Am I right? If so, which? (My book is absolutely clean, no profanity etc., but contains no references to LDS history, doctrine, or anything else LDS.) Is there anywhere to be found, a list of rankings of LDS publishers in terms of size, books published per year etc.?

In terms of size and name recognition, it goes

  1. Deseret Book (with its Shadow Mountain imprint)
  2. Covenant (also owned by Deseret Book; does not have a national market)
  3. Cedar Fort (has both LDS and national imprints)

In terms of the number of fiction titles released each year, flip that list upside down and you’ve got it.

There is also WiDo Publishing, a smaller new publishing company which markets nationally.

But I guess my question is, if you really want to hit the national market, why are you looking at LDS publishers? Look for a national publisher instead.


I’m Really Not Sure How to Answer This…

I got this email in April:

I found your blog on bookcovers and I’m submitting a book this week to Deseret Books and am now completing the second book of the trilogy. There are no LDS perspective book out like these. My first book has taken me fourteen years, and now I will produce the second and thied in the next three months and they are bestsellers. What can we do for each other? I have cover illustrations in mind for books two and three and have a sketch for book one. If I don’t hear from you in the next 24 hours, Deseret will get first crack at an unprecedented experiential trilogy. Thank you in advance for indulging me.

And this one in May:

Hello, I was just turned down by deseret publishing on my first book of this project. I’m 75% done with the second book and will then immediately complete the third of the trilogy. There has never been books like these as they are unique and experientially based. Can you help me?

Both were from the same person.

Where do I even begin? Clearly, you need to do more research on how to query and how to submit.

  1. I don’t do a blog on book covers. I do a blog on helping authors get published. I did a contest for book covers awhile back…?
  2. If it took 14 years to write the first book, I have absolutely no confidence in your ability to write two more books in only three months.
  3. Until they are published, you have no idea whether they will be bestsellers or not.
  4. If you are going to publish traditionally, cover illustrations are not your responsibility. The publisher designs the cover, not you.
  5. If you want control over the covers, you’ll need to self-publish, in which case, you won’t be contacting publishers.
  6. You never, ever, ever tell a publisher they only have 24 hours to decide to look at your manuscript.
  7. I’m not a publisher. I write an advice blog for authors.
  8. If I were a publisher and this was a real submission to me, I would not indulge someone who so clearly does not know what they are doing. I would not even respond. I’d click “delete”—end of story.
  9. You do not know what other authors are submitting. You cannot claim that your manuscript is “unprecedented.” The publisher may have rejected many manuscripts similar to yours or they may have something just like it in the process of being published.
  10. If you sent Deseret Book an email similar to the one you sent me, I’m not at all surprised they turned you down—for all the reasons I listed previously.

Can I help you? Yes. An author’s first job is to write a very good manuscript. Their second job is to research industry standards and learn how to submit a query and/or manuscript properly.

  1. Go to your local public library and check out some books on how to query and submit manuscripts to publishers.
  2. Read them.
  3. Follow their advice.

And lest anyone think this is an unusual query, let me just say that during my summer vacation, I received no less than four very similar emails. (Which causes me to wonder if I am being punked.) This one, however, offered the most teaching moments.

Subjectivity and Fairness

Having concluded the 2010 Best Cover Contest, I want to talk a little bit about subjectivity and fairness. A few comments expressed disappointment that certain covers had been selected and others neglected, disbelief that some covers got as many votes as they did, and even a few inferences that maybe the voting was rigged.

I want to address the last one first. There is always the possibility in any contest like this that people will vote multiple times, using various computers. Or that a publisher will have everyone in their company go vote for their books. Or that the mother or best friend of someone involved will call all their friends and relatives and threaten to disown them if they don’t vote in a particular way. I have no control over that and I can’t stop it from happening, so we assume good faith and a certain level of integrity here.

As far as I can tell, no one cheated, nor did they apply undue pressure on voters.

What is more likely, however, is that some people just help spread the word about the contest a little better than others, and the natural result is that they encouraged people with similar tastes to come vote. That’s just the way of it. The winners won fair and square within the guidelines of the contest—to subjectively select the most appealing covers.

Subjectivity is a fascinating subject. Subjective refers to relating to the mind of the thinking subject [the person] and not the nature of the object being considered.”* It’s a matter of personal taste and preference.

I have this compelling interest to know why someone chooses one thing and someone else chooses another thing. Often it’s based upon completely intangible and indiscernible preferences, rarely upon the instrinsic value or structure of that thing. I find it fascinating that people voted on book covers based upon whether or not they liked trains, or had a fear of drowning, or preferred the color blue. I happen to have had a passion for mermaids since I was in fifth grade, which may have had as much to do with why I chose The Forbidden Sea as my favorite as did the enchanting illustration.

Such is the case with subjectivity—and again, I say the winners won fair and square.

Subjectivity is also one of the reasons why some manuscripts are accepted and others rejected. Yes, there are certain levels of quality in writing that can be measured objectively—grammar, format, plot line, timing, characterization, etc. But even those can be influenced by individual preferences and idiosyncrasies.

As for whether or not a story is “good”—there’s as much subjectivity involved in that evaluation as there was in our book cover contest. Pay attention to the feedback you get from readers. If they all say the same thing, it’s more than subjective. Fix whatever it is and try again. But don’t let a few rejections cause you to give up on your dreams of writing. Keep submitting until you find a subjective match!


LDS Agents?

I just found your blog and am just thrilled! I’m about to start the whole query (what I hear is a nightmare) challenge, and as I am getting all my ducks in a row I have to wonder…are there LDS agents out in the world? I know this may be a completely moronic question, but I am really curious. I have heard some publishers won’t look at a manuscript unless they have an agent. Does this same rule of thumb apply to the LDS market.

Sorry if this question has been asked before. I did a search and couldn’t find anything about it though.

Thanks so much for your time and this blog!

LDS agents? No such animal. The reason being the LDS market is so small that no one could make a living at it. As far as I am aware, all LDS publishers will accept unagented manuscripts.

However, because you don’t have an agent to look out for you, it’s even more important that you have your contract looked at by an attorney familiar with publishing law, so you know what you’re signing.


Sara Megibow is an Associate Literary Agent with the Nelson Literary Agency. She writes a regular article in Kristen Nelson’s monthly newsletter. If you don’t get this newsletter, you should. You can sign up here.

The article below was from the last newsletter. I hope I don’t get in trouble for reposting it here. But I thought it was very, very good—plus I’m telling you to get the newsletter.

This year I will be attending the Romance Writers Convention in Nashville (July) and World Fantasy in Columbus (October). Some other conferences may yet come up, but that’s my schedule for right now. Amazingly, I am already preparing for RWA even though summer feels light years away. At these conferences, I hope to meet writers shopping for an agent and I’ve been thinking of ideas to help smooth that process.

1. If you have a completed work of fiction ready to submit, prepare a two sentence blurb that you can rattle off at any time (in the elevator, after a workshop, in a pitch session – whatever). Know your word count and your genre (and subgenre) and practice reciting these things out loud. (Example “FRANK is a completed historical romance at 100,000 words. It’s about a hero who is driven to shun society at the impetus of a mysterious and sexy bar wench.”) (I just made that up, no laughing please.)

2. Have access to your work. Who knows, I may be impressed with your pitch (the one you’ve just successfully rattled off to me while waiting in line for coffee). If I ask for 30 pages, it would be great if you could say – “heck, I have them right here on my iPhone – can I send them to you?” Have two versions ready to send electronically – the first 30 pages as one document (labeled with your name, the title of the work, genre, word count and your contact information including email address). Also, have the full manuscript ready to go (with same info attached at the beginning of the document). Save them and have them in microsoft word format (no pictures, no headshots, no weblinks) and at the very least have access to them in your hotel room.

3. Update your writer website and blog before the conference and include the addresses of those tools in anything that you submit. Yes, that means you should have a website and a blog – make sure they are professional, accurate and engaging. An update doesn’t have to be fancy – just make sure you have a recent blog entry (example, “I’m off to RWA – looking forward to finding an agent for FRANK”) and that your website mentions your writing (better yet, there is a blurb on your completed manuscript already loaded and accessible!)

I am looking forward to this year’s conferences. I enjoy meeting and talking to writers and am actively looking for new talent to represent!

Sara Megibow
Associate Literary Agent

A Memoir is Non-Fiction

Is a memoir fiction, since it’s written like a story? Or non-fiction, since it’s based on true events? Do I have to write the whole thing before submitting? Or do I write some samples and an outline and query, like a non-fiction book?

A memoir is non-fiction. It’s often shelved in its own section, or with autobiographies, but never with fiction.

However, submission requirements for memoirs are usually the same as for fiction—meaning, you send your query and/or cover letter, synopsis and/or outline, and the first three chapters or sample pages (in order, not random chapters), as requested by the publisher’s guidelines.

Some publishers have separate guidelines for memoirs, but most don’t.

First Three means FIRST THREE!

This may be a really stupid question, but when a publisher or agent asks for three chapters, do they mean the first three chapters? Or three random chapters? If my book has a prologue, is that considered the first chapter? Or do I send the prologue plus three chapters?

You send the first three chapters. Always. [Unless specifically instructed otherwise by the agent or publisher.]

If you have a prologue and it’s absolutely critical to understanding what is happening in the first three chapters, then call it chapter 1 and send the next two chapters (renumbered as 2 and 3). Most of the time, however, you do not send the prologue.

This is only a stupid question if you ask me after you’ve sent in three random chapters.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

 Okay, so yesterday’s late night post wasn’t a real post. But it was all I could manage because I was working on those electronic files all day. So today, you’ll get two posts.

When should a writer finally admit that it’s not your query that is the problem, but the subject matter?

I’ve written a YA suspense novel set in the 1960s. Those who have critiqued it with me think it should sell. However, I’ve sent out well over 100 queries, many following extensive revisions suggested by members of several writers forums. None of my queries have garnered even as much as a request for a partial. So, when should a writer give up and realize it’s not the query but just something no agent or publisher wants?

Having not read the query or the novel, I can’t tell you where the problem is. However, if you’ve sent out over 100 queries and not gotten a nibble, something is wrong.

When this happens and you really don’t know if it’s the topic or the query, set it aside. Hopefully you’ve been working on another novel during your submitting process. If not, get started right away on one. When it’s done, start querying it.

Then do it over again with a third novel.

During the process, your writing will improve and you’ll learn more about submitting and eventually you’ll hit it right.

Vampires and Werewolves and Demons, Oh My!

I have a vampire novel I’d like to submit nationally. Does it have the proverbial snowball’s chance at being accepted? Or is that trend totally dead.

From a reader’s viewpoint, that trend is still going strong. Just notice what books women are reading at the airport or the doctor’s office. And if you check out the fantasy best sellers, at least half of them are paranormal—meaning, they deal with vampires, werewolves, demons and such.

From a publisher/agent viewpoint, the trend is done. Probably.

I say, “probably” because really there are only about a dozen or so plot lines in the world—which are constantly being recycled with a twist. A good book with a twist still has a chance at acceptance, even if the trend is on the downturn.

The questions you have to ask yourself are: 1) have all the vampire twists been used up?, and 2) does my novel provide a twist that’s new, unique, and captivating?

Just off the top of my head, here are some of the unique spins put on the vampire legends that have made them feel new and fun:

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Joss Whedon)—a vampire with a soul.
  • Twilight Series (Stephenie Meyer)—Good, “vegetarian” vampires vs evil vampires. They glitter in the sunlight.
  • Peeps (Scott Westerfield)—vampirism is an enhancement to prepare the world for what is to come.
  • Morganville Vampires (Rachel Caine)—Vampires have taken over a town where they “sponsor” humans. A vampire illness creates a war between bad and not-so-bad vampires.
  • Sookie Stackhouse/The Southern Vampire Mysteries (Charlaine Harris)—Synthetic blood allows vampires to come out of hiding and join society, sort of.
  • Vampire Academy (Richelle Mead)—There are good, mortal vampires (Moroi) and bad, undead vampires (Strigoi).
  • Vampire Diaries (L.J. Smith)—Cain and Abel, but vampires, both in love with the same woman. They can go out in the day if they have a special ring.
  • Angel Falling Softly (Eugene Woodbury)—”LDS” vampire story. Vampirism is the result of a virus. (This book would have been much better if that had been explored more deeply.)

So, anyway, back on topic. Does your manuscript have a chance at publication? If you can create a unique spin, perhaps. Polish it fast and start submitting it. Be sure to emphasize your unique concept in your query. If no one accepts it because the trend is over, put it in a drawer and wait a few years. Most trends eventually come back around again.

Bad Advice

What is the worst advice you’ve seen someone (like from another blog or a writer’s book) give a writer?

The absolute worst advice I’ve seen is recommending that you NOT follow the publisher’s submission guidelines.

The guidelines have been created because they make things go more smoothly within the publishing house. You may not like the hoops you have to jump through, but if you want to work with that publisher, you need to jump through them anyway.

The next worst advice is that you don’t need to worry about getting your manuscript perfect because your editor will fix it, and as a tangent to that, to purposely leave in something “bad” because editors feel like they have to change something and that will give them something to change and they’ll leave the rest of your book alone.

That is just ridiculous! First, if your manuscript is too far from perfect, it will be rejected because it will take to long to clean it up. Second, editors don’t have time to fix things that don’t need fixing. Leaving in something “bad” is just idiocy and makes you look like an inconsistent writer.

One last piece of bad advice is to look at what’s hot and then write a formulaic novel based on the current trend.

This is just so wrong. Formulaic novels are usually boring and will be rejected. And by the time your book makes it through the publishing process, the current trend will most likely be old news.

Patience is a Virtue

I have a question for you. I resubmitted a manuscript with revisions at the request of a large LDS publishing company. They’ve been in possession of it for eight weeks now and I haven’t heard from them yet. When would it be appropriate (or is it?) for me to send them a courteous follow up email inquiring about the status of the novel? They got back to me very quickly the first time through (four weeks) with the request for some revisions, and now I’m a little nervous about the increased wait time. Would you share your opinion/experience on handling this situation?

While eight weeks is a lifetime for an author, it’s the blink of an eye to a publisher. It’s probably still in committee, or out to readers. I wouldn’t worry about it. Give them another four weeks, then send a quick email.

Re-pitching a Rejected Story

You said, “you then can re-pitch the mss you sent during the poor economy.”

Can I do that? I thought once an agent/editor rejects you it’s over.

First, let’s clarify something. An agent/editor is not rejecting YOU. They are rejecting your manuscript.

That distinction may not help your heart in the moment that you’re reading the form letter, but once you’re through crying about it and you’re ready for rational thought, it’s an important distinction to make.

Unless they’ve specifically said that they never want another word you’ve written to cross their desk, you are free to continue to send new queries to the same agents/editors who’ve rejected previous ones.

Okay, now for the issue of re-pitching previously rejected manuscripts to the same agent/editor. In most cases, your previously rejected queries/mss will have been rejected based on the quality of the work, so no, don’t waste your time re-pitching old stories. Move forward with what you’ve learned since you submitted that first mss, and write new stories to bring to the table.

However, if you know for sure that your mss was rejected solely due to marketing reasons, such as a slow economy or timely issues, you might (that’s MIGHT) be able to re-pitch at a later date if: 1) those marketing reasons have changed, and 2) you are now a published author through the agent/editor who previously rejected the work.

For example, let’s say you submitted a vampire book pre-Stephenie Meyer and it was rejected because vampire books weren’t selling. However, the next novel you submitted was accepted and published and sold at or above expected levels. Then Meyer bursts onto the scene. It would be perfectly legit for you to contact your agent/editor and remind them that you had a vampire novel they’d previously rejected because vampires weren’t selling but now that they are selling, would they like to take another look at it. (Except you’ll be much more eloquent in the wording of your query than I just was.) (And yes, it would be a revised query that you would send them, with a reminder of your basic plot, how it’s like and unlike Meyer’s book, blah, blah, blah.)

A future scenario might be you’ve just received a rejection and it says, “Loved the story. Wish we could publish it but must reject due to the current economy…” Then suddenly this fall, Obama saves the world and we’re all sitting pretty with gobs of cash to burn. In that case, yes, you could send a quick 1-page query to the agent/editor and say, “When you rejected my manuscript, The Story of Edgar Bookman, last winter, you said that you wished you ‘could publish it but must reject due to the current economy.’ Now that you have plenty of money, would you like to take another look at it? ” Then continue with the basic query to remind them of what it was.

It could happen. Maybe. But ONLY if they indicated that it was solely economic reasons that you were rejected.

However, outside those two scenarios, no, re-pitching old stories is not a good idea, unless your agent/editor specifically asks you if you have a book dealing with a certain topic, and then you could say, “Yes, but you rejected it two years ago…” and go from there.

Economic Reasons to Submit…or Not

Recently, I’ve read a lot on writer’s forums about how bad the book-selling industry is doing right now with the down economy. I’m hearing (reading) that agents and editors are taking on very few new projects, and selecting the ones they do take on with extreme care.

So, I’m thinking of stopping my querying for my novel for the time being (months, years) until the economy improves. I currently have nine outstanding queries, and I think I’ll see what comes of them, but wait to send out any more.

My thinking is I want to wait until the market improves so I won’t get a bunch of rejections that otherwise could be acceptances in a better economy. There are only a finite number of agents and publishing houses and if I exhaust them all now, when they’re not in the buying mood, I may lose them, possibly forever.

At least that’s my thinking on this matter for the time being.

Am I wrong?

Well, I’ve heard the argument on both sides—and I suppose waiting may have some merit, but. . . I wouldn’t.

Yes, agents and publishers may be tightening their belts but they’re still looking for good—as in, really good— manuscripts. If your mss is really good, they’re going to snap it up because they want something that will sell well even in a depressed economy.

If your mss is not that good, they’re going to reject it even if the economy is going gangbusters.

If your mss is so-so, it might have a better chance with some publishers in a good economy, but is that what you really want?

So I’d say, make sure your work is as polished and perfect as possible, and keep submitting. (Your chances of acceptance may even be a little better if other authors are thinking like you and not submitting as much.)

If they reject you, it’s not like you’ve lost them forever because you’re writing new stuff, right? (If you’re not, you should be.) You can always submit the new stuff to these same agents and publishers in the future.

And let’s say your mss was passed on strictly due to economic reasons. If you submit another novel in 6 or 12 or 24 months down the road, and it’s accepted because the economy is better, you then can re-pitch the mss you sent during the poor economy.

Do Your Research!

I recently got this inquiry in my LDS Publisher e-mail. See if you can figure out what’s wrong with it.

I came across your blog (Contests!) and am wondering if you would consider letting me submit a guest post on your site. I am new to freelancing, and I am trying to build my online portfolio. I don’t know if you have a formal procedure or are willing to accept a guest writer, but please let me know if this is possible. I would appreciate you getting back with me with and I can send over an article for your consideration.

In terms of the topic for the article, I’m thinking about writing something that relates to the general theme of your blog, but if there is something specific you would like me to write about, just let me know…

Did you figure it out?

  1. Big issue: The writer wants to do a guest post for my Contests! site? Something on its general theme? If s/he had spent even one minute perusing that site, s/he would have realized that there is no theme other than posting contests, and that guest posts are not appropriate for that site. If s/he’d clicked on any of the links at the top of the site s/he would have discovered that the LDS Publisher site was the one s/he really should be querying about guest posting.
  2. Little issue: S/he really should have proofed her/his query a little better. S/he did include two links to articles s/he’d written and they were clean, no typos there. The writing was nothing spectacular, but not bad either.

As a publisher/editor, I can overlook the little typo issue. I’m not excusing it. Your query should be perfect. But we’re all human, cut and paste errors happen (even in published books!), and most of the time I’m willing to look at the sample writing sent with an imperfect query.

But the big issue is, well, BIG. And it happens all the time. Queries get sent to publishers who aren’t looking for that type of story. Although some publishers are a little vague on what they want, most publishers are very clear on their website. For example, my site said, “We do not publish picture books.” And yet, at least once a month, I’d get a query for a picture book. It was a waste of my time, my assistant’s time and the author’s time and money.

Five minutes or less—that’s all it takes to look at a publisher’s website and determine whether your manuscript is something they’d like to see.

Rejection Can Be a Positive Thing

I’m a newbie, writing for a national market, not the LDS market, but I’m hoping you can help with this anyway. I’ve been querying agents for my first novel. I’ve gotten three rejections but the rest haven’t responded yet. However, one of the rejections had a hand-written comment at the bottom. It said, “Sorry I have to pass this one up. Looks good. Please submit again.”

I may be stupid to ask this—(Thank goodness you keep us anonymous. You do keep us anonymous, right? Right.)—but would he mean that I should rework the query and resubmit it? Or to submit another book? Also, am I wrong or is this comment on a rejection letter actually a positive thing?

I can’t speak for everyone, and there may be an agent/editor out there who has time to hand-write a little note on every rejection, but most of us are way too busy doing the other parts of our jobs to soften the blow of rejection out of the kindness of our hearts.

I only added hand-written notes to rejections if I thought they were very close to publishable or if the rejection was for some other reason other than quality of the work (like my calendar was full or it was too similar to something else we already have). So I would have to guess that yes, that comment was a positive thing.

He’s asking you to submit a new book. That’s a very positive thing.

How Long is Too Long?

This question was taken from a recent comment on a post from last year. (Thanks for reading through the archives.)

I’ve been working on a book for 2 years now, and am thinking I’m getting close to submitting a first draft to a publisher. After reading this, and all the comments, I’m now thinking I need another four years before I’ll be to that point…

What can I do to keep my motivation?

Part 1—How long do you need to work on your novel before submitting? The answer, of course, is: as long as it takes to get the story right.

Having said that, however, I have a few more comments. First, if it takes you six years to write a novel, and you’ve only been working on the one story during that time, as a publisher, I’m going to think twice about accepting your book. Reason being, if I publish your book and readers like you, they’re going to want more ASAP. If it takes another six years to get book two out, readers will forget about you and we’ll have to start all over again to establish a fan base. If you want a career as a novelist, you should plan to produce a book every year or two.

Now, first books usually take longer to write because you’re learning your craft. We understand that. And if you’re going to be a “one hit wonder,” you may still be published if that one hit is good enough. Just keep in mind that part of my decision making process in accepting a book is if I think I’m going to be able to create a “reproducible commodity” of sorts. (Okay, I know that phrase is going to get me lots of hateful comments. Fine. Go ahead. Give me your best shot.)

If you’ve been working on a book for two years, get yourself into a good critique group right away and get that thing polished up and submitted this year!

Part 2—What can I do to keep my motivation?

Readers—jump in and help our new author out. What do you do to keep yourself motivated when you’re either dragging in your work-in-progress or you’re waiting to hear back on submissions?