Shayne on You: Advice for the would-be author

Ms. Shayne,

Hello, Maggie! I need some advice. I currently write a column like you. It's quite fun to write. The reason I am writing to you is because I am trying to get a children's book of my own published but I have been only able to find them in Self Publishing and I cannot financially give any money of my own at this time. How did you get started? Were you able to find a commercial publisher or did you self publish to get yourself started? Do all authors start out this way? If you could point me in a direction, I would be greatly appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you.


Fellow Scribbler

Dear Scribbler,

Here’s the creed I teach to aspiring authors. Say it daily, commit it to memory and repeat it as needed. “I do not pay anyone to publish my work. They pay me.”

Real, commercial publishers pay royalties (a percentage of the cover price of each copy sold) and advances (part of the anticipated royalty earnings paid to you up front.) Those advances are not required to be paid back to the publisher if your book doesn’t sell as well as expected. They’re yours to keep. These are the publishers whose books line the shelves of our bookstores. Look through the children’s section, and jot down the publisher information from the copyright page. Most include addresses. Then go home and look them up on the Internet.

Or go to your local library and grab the latest copy of Writers Market, or Novel & Short Story Writers Market, or Literary Marketplace. These indispensable references are published every year, so the information stays up to date.

Inside, you’ll find the names of publishers, the kind of work they are looking for, the amount they generally pay, the expected response time, (double whatever they tell you) and where and how to submit.

Look for publishers who are selling the kinds of books you want to write. Visit their websites and download their author guidelines or tip sheets. From there, the process is just hard work and persistence. You write, you submit your work, you get rejected. You write, you submit your work, you get rejected. You hone your craft and you get better and better and better at it, and eventually, (unless you give up) you’ll write, you’ll submit, and you’ll sell.

And then you’ll live happily ever after.

Well, sort of. =)

Good luck!



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