That sounds pretty incredible doesn’t it? Here I am offering you the secret, that coveted delicious slice of knowledge so many are seeking to savor, and not only am I going to offer it to you – I’m not even going to charge you for it!
Yes, you read that correctly. This advice is free to everyone and anyone reading this blog. Good grief that sounded like an infomercial didn’t it? The only thing I didn’t include was the free set of pot holders, or a veggie slicer with separate shipping and handling.
Okay, now where did I get the secret? You see, this past Memorial Day weekend, I had the opportunity to spend time in a Harley Davidson dealership. Okay, wait, wait, wait – where am I going with that? What do motorcycles have to do with publishing a book? Well, you could write a book about motorcycles, but that is not what I was doing. Hudson Valley Harley Davidson in Nanuet, NY allowed us to use their classroom for a writing workshop. Not just any writing workshop, this one was at a ridiculously low price by a woman who is writing her third book and was sharing her knowledge of how to write a memoir.
Now you might say, well, I’m not writing a memoir, so this would not pertain nor interest me, and that is where I would respectfully disagree.
A memoir, unlike a biography is simply a section, a part, a slice of your life. It is not a complete work from birth to present day, but a question you need answered, a segment of history you’d like to share, a lesson learned. But I learned an enormous amount of information about the craft of writing. How to weave the threads to make the tapestry. How to use different brushes when working on a painting. How the use of question and resolution combine to not only bring the story to life, but to develop and enrich and make you want to keep turning the pages.
Isn’t that what we want to do when we write? Have our reader enjoy the read? We want them to keep turning pages – we want them to keep wanting more!
What was intended to be a workshop of about 25-30 people did not turn out that way at all. As a matter of fact, in the history of planning for workshops – this was a bomb. In a classroom that can fit 90, we were a group of four. Traveling, BBQ’s and department store sales took precedence over the craft. I was saddened. I expected the author to politely decline, perhaps try again in the fall, and leave after the free bagels and coffee the dealership provided. But she didn’t. She stayed and not only did she stay – she taught, she shared and she told us the secret!
For two days, we sat together and talked and read aloud and listened and asked questions and discussed and agreed and disagreed and enjoyed the time together and the craft so much it was magical. What was to be a workshop, became a personalized seminar in what each of us was working on, struggling with, attempting to do. It did not matter if I wasn’t writing a memoir, but it helped us me to write and understand the craft a little more. The author was so kind, sharp, witty, caring, strong, direct, bold and with all of her experience she gladly and openly shared what she had learned, what worked and what didn’t and how so many people seem to be making a living off keeping the secret to themselves. THAT is the travesty. Writing was never meant to be kept a secret. It was never intended to be only for a select few. Writing is a pleasure, a joy and torture all rolled into one long line of ink! It is the best of both worlds – it is balance.
But hey, I said I was going to give you the secret. I stated in the beginning of this blog I would tell you how to get published, and I was going to do this for free.
So here it goes – the secret to getting published is – – – there is no secret. YOU the writer have the gift inside of you – or you do not. Now, let me pause here for a moment. You can enjoy writing and not be published. You can enjoy the process and create wonderful things – and that is enough. IF you choose to self-publish there are a ton of different ways to do it that can all be researched online. And please, please, do your homework. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you invest in hardcover, gold edged bonded paper with beautiful illustrations – you might have to get a second mortgage – but please don’t. Write because you desire to write. The written word is indeed magical – it can take you anywhere and it can drop you on your butt in a puddle. Decide where you want to go.
IF you want to get published – learn as much as you can about the process. Don’t just say you’re going to write a book. Write it! Figure out the How To and do it. Don’t explain it, don’t defend it, don’t judge it, just do it! As you write, there are a wealth of different avenues to learn about beside, good grammar, punctuation and spelling – but guess what – these are important too. If you’re going to do this – Do The Work it takes to learn how to write the best way you can. Then write! NO ONE is going to give it to you. YOU have to earn it and as you earn it, you will discover so many secrets within you. How you craft the story, how you describe the scene, how you give voice to the characters, how you weave the story together. It comes from you.
Now tell me – did this help? Do you see now you do not have to spend a bucket full of money to pay for the secret? BUT you do have to have a good, solid, well written, spelled correctly, formatted correctly, edited (by someone who has edited your type of genre before, not a well-meaning friend who is an English teacher) book. You have to package your work the way the literary agent requires it and know that you can not approach a publishing house – they will turn you away. You must follow their rules and regulations and you’ll probably have to hire an attorney if they offer you a contract. But the point I am trying to make, the information I’m trying to share is – there is no secret and if someone is telling you, if you pay them, they’ll tell you what the secret is– put them in your story and…(giggle) hey, you know the rest!
Breathe Deep, Think Peace