Into the Open: Getting your Name out There
By Nicholas Baron
I must admit that publishing is a daunting task, and though I’ve never published myself, I have had the opportunity to rub shoulders with many successful writers thanks to Grammarly. I’ve noticed a sort of pattern that these writers take to that coveted Golden Brick Road, and also some similar publishing woes shared amongst them. I’ve nailed the whole messy publishing shebang down to some fundamentals and listed them here for you. Please feel free to speak your mind if you’ve got something to say; comments are appreciated.
One thing many writers share in common at the beginning is what I call the ‘celebrity’ syndrome. You know it, and I’ve also been guilty of being momentarily infected with it after each article I wrote. Celebrity syndrome is that alter ego that grows so big after you finish a novel that you literally walk around with an invisible ‘award-winning author’ sign tattooed on your forehead.
Now let’s get a reality check here, just because you managed to string some words together in a loosely decipherable form of comprehension, doesn’t automatically mean publishers are going to kowtow by your door and lick your boot. Writing a novel is like running a marathon: you have to train and pace yourself, with publishing as your finish line. Trust me, if this is the first time you’ve ever gotten your full name associated with ‘English’ or ‘Book’, you’ve probably not reached your full potential in writing yet. You’ll need more practice, young Padawan.
My humble advice is to start on a smaller scale – a much smaller scale. The reason why many budding writers have rejection letters that could probably act as wallpaper for the entire house is simply because nobody knows their name, and so publishers are not willing to stake time and money buying into something that isn’t guaranteed to sell.
If you ask any successful writer, I can pretty much assure you that one of the first few things they’ve played around with is freelance writing. Freelance writing is a great way to get your daily dose of finger exercises while understanding some of the hot topics that are in demand around the market. And all these benefits while being paid – it’s definitely a win-win situation. With each writing job that you secure, you’ll find your confidence and writing caliber develop and mature to make you a more solid writer.
Another method you can try is blogging. Over the last few years, many writers have started using personal blogs as a platform from which to launch their careers. Building a solid fan base for your writing is essential not only to get people talking about you but also for invaluable feedback. Just remember to find topics that genuinely interest you. Indeed, I cannot overemphasize how painful it is to read the words of writers who try too hard to appeal to large target audiences.
Think Michael Bublé as a Daddy Yankee imposter -- you could be deaf, and even then you would know that something were fishy. Do remember that building a group of loyal followers is not easy. You’ll have to post regularly enough to maintain interest. Social media will obviously be a bonus, and for the first year or so, getting about 100 followers (even if 43 of them are your family and friends) will be cause for celebration.
Once again, remind yourself of the eventual goal, and take baby steps to reach it.
Something else many successful writers swear by is to get published in magazines. For starters, freelancing for small sections in certain publications is a great way for you to get a feel for publishing work. Another great reason why going for magazines could jump-start your career is the priceless connections you’d be able to make with editors and publishers who will slowly start to trust and value your work.
Think of it the same way you’d approach publishing your book, but about 254 pages shorter. Start with a topic, research various publications that you’re interested in, write a brief synopsis of what you want to cover, send a query letter, and wait. Send a follow-up if they don’t reply, and wait a little more. If you’ve nailed your letter and topic and have selected a suitable company, there’s no reason why they’d turn you down.
Before you jump right into any one of these methods I’ve suggested here, I’ll rewind and give you another piece of advice that is supposedly common sense. Also, just because it’s so important, I’ll give each word a line of its own.
Proofreading doesn’t mean simply re-reading what you wrote. It means making a checklist of common errors you want to look out for (sentence structure, passive voice, grammar, spelling, punctuation, clichés, etc.) and going through it about 10 times. Use programs such as Grammarly to help you spot mistakes within seconds. Always make sure that every piece of writing you submit, whether it is to be published officially or it is an email to be sent out to potential publishers, is impeccable. Before you hit that send button, take time to read it again, and again, and again.
Go forth and write, my dear writers – the biggest obstacle you’ll have to overcome is yourself.
By Nikolas Baron