Monday, May 13, 2013

The Secret to Getting Published

I just finished up three days at the Storymakers 2013 conference! It was a great event with some wonderful agents and editors, and lots of amazing authors and aspiring authors. I attended some very helpful classes--some of them taught by agents and editors.

When the agents/editors open the floor to questions, inevitably the writers start asking things like:

"What are the upcoming trends in the market?"
"What should I put in my query letter to make it stand out?"
"What genres are you looking for?"
"When is the best time of year to query?"

The agents and editors do their best to answer these questions, but they struggle. Sometimes the writers get bugged. "Why can't they just tell us what they're looking for."  Even though these are all different questions, they all boil down to the same thing:

"What is that one magical thing I need to do to get published?"

The bottom line is that there is no one secret, magical, just-out-of-reach trick. They can guide you and offer suggestions on what NOT to do, but none of this is a shoo in.

The only trick that really works is to write a great story. I think is was Victoria Curran who said, after everyone kept asking for the magical secret, "Write what's in your heart, and write to the heart."

A good query is important. Not writing to the trends is important. Choosing the right agent for your genre is important. But the only sure thing that can sell your story is your story.

Write what's in your heart.
Create something that speaks to the heart of the reader.
Write it well.
When the time is right, your story will find a home. No magical tricks involved.


  1. I'm with you. By now I've attended enough panels and author/agent QA sessions where the same questions seem to get asked. I usually am curious about the trends myself, just to know what's out there. But just because HIstorical YA is getting big, doesn't mean agents or editors will like mine.

    I think it's a delicate mix of knowing the market, and constantly working on improving our own writing. I can have a great idea that an editor might love, but if the story isn't told well and my writing is full of rookie mistakes, knowing the trend isn't going to matter. :)

  2. It was great to see you! Although I wish I had stuck around and chatted a bit more,I think I was a bit overwhelmed and sort of still surreal seeing people from the internet. But i learned so much from the classes and it was awesome.

  3. Good point. Do you think the agents and editors get tired of being asked stuff like that?

  4. I am right at 20,000 words into my book and am so excited I can hardly stand it! I wish there was magic to make it jump from my head and just be on paper haha. I have been so paranoid trying to find out how many words I need it to be, how do I get it published, when do I send it off, and other such questions but I had to laugh at myself because I am not even finished with the book yet! You have inspired me thou! Even if a company never picks up my book and says that they love my story, I won't care. As long as I get to the end of this and it is something that I love, which so far it is, I will be happy. Great post by the way and if you do happen to find that one magical thing, let me know!