Where do I start?

I am always happy when people share their writing dreams with me, and I want to help as much as I can. You may think that my work with the Mad Anthony Writers Conference has given me an inside track to publishers, editors, and agents. It hasn’t. But I can pass along the advice I was given and share some hints I’ve learned along the way.

  1. There’s a plethora of information online but be sure you get it from the experts. Writers Digest is an industry giant and excellent resource, as is Jane Friedman (a former editor at Writers Digest.)  If you have a special interest, search for writing help in that area such as: how to write a Catholic novel; how to write for children; how to write my father’s story
  2. Check the websites of respected authors and authors you enjoy to see if free writing tips are offered
  3. Join a writers group–or start one of your own (see #4 below). If you don’t know of one, ask your friends, librarian, bookseller, or teachers if they know of any. Romance Writers  of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators have local chapters. For Catholic writing check out Catholic Writers Guild blog  and the Catholic Writers Guild website.
  4. Start a writers group;. Ask librarians if they know of anyone who is looking for a group (that’s how I met a fellow writer and we, with the help of a Barnes and Noble store manager,  founded the Mad Anthony Writers Conference in 2006.)
  5. Attend a writers conference. The resources I listed above are a good place to start as is searching online for lists of conferences. Get your facts before you send anyone money, though.
  6. Read–it’s the best way to know what is being published and how successful authors did it
  7. If you have  already have an idea or manuscript but don’t know what to do next try this. Go to your local library’s Reference section and ask for the most recent Writers Market  book.  There are several:  a general one; one for writing for children; one for poets; one for Christian writing. You can’t check out reference books  (unless they are old editions), so plan to stay at the library to do your research. The books will list topics ( children, political, paranormal, and so on) and the name of publishers looking for manuscripts about those topics.  Go to the page number after each publisher to find more information such as word count limits, whether you need an agent to submit, what the publisher will pay you (sometimes it’s free copies rather than cash) and so on. Choose several publishers that fit your needs then send the manuscripts on. If it’s not accepted, try the next one on the list.

What do you think?