One of the things I hear amongst aspiring traditionally published authors is that all we can do is our best- that as long as we’re doing the maximum to try and obtain an agent and get that book deal, there’s really nothing more we can do.
But what is the maximum? And am I really doing it? I’ve tried to compile a checklist of stuff we’re ‘supposed’ to do.
Write. There’s writing of course. We’re told not to get stuck on one project but to try different realms, genres, style and to always keep moving and improving our craft. Does that mean we should be writing a book a year? A certain number of short stories? Poems?
Polish. We have to learn how to effectively revise. Find critique partners and betas. Critique material for other people in order to hone a critical eye.
Query. We can’t very well call ourselves a querying author if we aren’t sending out queries. But how many queries? How often? If we take a break from querying, are we no longer a ‘querying’ author?
Blog. Having an online presence and author’s platform used to be a ‘must’ but now some authors and agents are saying it holds no sway and barely puts a dent in the promotion that needs to be done in order to have a successful book launch or career. But still, we’ve got to put our name out there and garner interest for our books and what we have to say. Just in case.
Subscribe to Publisher’s Weekly. To keep an eye on new trends- what’s selling and who’s buying. (I haven’t done this)
Enter pitch contests, first 250 word contests, first chapter contests, break-out novel contests. (Yeah. I haven’t done any of this in a really long time either.)
Self Publish. Because having a self-published book or series that is selling well is a way to garner attention and interest from the traditional publishing industry.
Get short stories or excerpts published in a magazine or an anthology of some sort. (I only have one short story. What can I say? I’m long-winded. So does this mean I should sit down and write short stories in hopes of getting them accepted into an anthology? )
Go to writers conferences. (Never done this. I live too far away. And have you seen the prices?)
Anything I missed? This already feels like a lot and I’m only doing about half of them (and those few alone suck a big part of my time and energy into the trying-to-get-published-vortex). Could I be doing more? Probably. But for me, the maximum is giving your all in the areas you can. Truth is, you could be doing all these and it still might not be 'enough' to get published.
How many of these are you guys doing/have you done?
Do you ever feel like no matter how much you do, it’s never enough?