Today we get the pleasure of reading the last steps for getting published in a highly competitive world. Enjoy!

Getting Published in a Highly Competitive World (part 2)

by Mary Ellis

Read Part 1

#4 Submit your work. Send sample chapters with a synopsis to potential publishers, agents, or various contests within your type of writing (genre). Follow their guidelines to the letter. Do not submit the whole manuscript unless specifically asked for. The feedback that you’ll receive can be invaluable for improving your work. Every writer faces rejection—get used to it—or find another career if you’re thin-skinned.

#5 Improve your writing. When we finish our first book, we want to think we’re “done.” It is a big accomplishment, but it’s only the first step in the process. Few books are publishable right from the starting gate. Be willing to edit your work based on feedback. Some fledgling writers use critique partners, or writing groups that meet to critique each other’s work. Attend workshops at writer’s conferences or sign up for a class at the local community college. You may decide that your first book cannot be “fixed”—that’s okay! Put it in your cedar chest and start something fresh with what you’ve learned.

#6 Get an agent. Look up the list of accredited agents online, and submit your work. An agent hears what publishing houses happen to be looking for and will steer you in the right direction. Also, submissions to a publisher from an agent tend to receive more immediate attention.

#7 Take your agent’s advice to heart. He/she has a vested interest in your career. Writers seldom (if ever) have an objective perspective on their own work. Listen to what your agent, potential publisher, or editor suggests for ways of improvement. To be successful you must check your ego at the door.

#8 Keep writing and re-writing. Read books on plot structure, character development, and good old-fashioned English grammar. Then keep writing and watch your work progress.

#9  Pray. Do not underestimate the power of prayer in accomplishing what seems like impossible dreams.

What are the advantages to a career as a writer?

    –you go to work in your sweats or your favorite, well broken-in jeans.

    –your dog, cat, and kids can remain close by.

    –you can set your own hours. Some of us flourish writing first thing in the morning, while others prefer to burn the midnight oil, long after others are asleep and the house is quiet. Plus, these hours are flexible to accommodate school plays, dental appointments and drop-in guests from out-of-town. But you must set hours and stick to them if you want to get anything done. This is not the job for those not self-disciplined.

    –no fighting rush hour traffic, blizzards, or road construction crews.

    –no annoying co-workers, except for the fact you’ll often find yourself annoying.

   –you can take great trips around town, the country, or even the world for research, and your expenses usually are tax-deductible. Save your receipts and find a good accountant.

What are the disadvantages to a career as a writer?

   –since you’re usually paid with an “advance” against future royalties, your income is irregular. When, and if, royalties start to come, they’re paid only twice per year. A good budget is a must!

   –since you’re self-employed, you’re responsible for paying income taxes, social security, and health insurance premiums on your own. Again, make friends with a good accountant.

  –almost everyone in your life will have writing “advice” for you, or a story they would like told, so you’ll end up with many “supervisors” instead of the usual one or two.

  –after a long day of writing, you will grow desperate for human contact. I’ve been known to chase the UPS truck down the driveway, hoping to catch him/her for a quick chat. 

How do you know if you’ve got what it takes?

If stories just keep popping into your head after an ordinary lunch with girlfriends, or following a getaway weekend with your spouse, or if you overhear something in the grocery store line and can’t wait to get home to weave it into a mini-drama…then you know you’re a writer!

In closing, remember to keep your chin up and don’t get discouraged.

Beware of quitting too soon. According to Creators Syndicate, twenty-three publishers rejected Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book. The twenty-fourth publisher accepted it and it went on to sell six million copies.

May God bless you on your journey.

–Mary Ellis, copyright 2009 (may not be reproduced without permission)


Mary Ellis grew up close to the eastern Ohio Amish community, Geauga County, where her parents often took her to farmer’s markets and woodworking fairs. She loved their peaceful, agrarian lifestyle, their respect for the land, and their strong sense of Christian community. She met her husband in college and they married six days after graduation.

She, her husband, dog and cat now live in Medina County, close to the largest population of Amish in the country—a four-county area in central Ohio. They often take weekend trips to purchase produce, research for her best-selling books, and enjoy a simpler way of life.

Mary enjoys reading, traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught Middle School in Sheffield Lake, Ohio and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate for twenty years—a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. All three of her Miller Family series, A Widow’s Hope, Never Far from Home, and The Way to a Man’s Heart have made the CBA and CBD bestseller lists. A Widow’s Hope was a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards for 2010 in the long contemporary category, and a runner-up in the 2010 Holt Medallion Awards.


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