The fiction market today is a bit bleak. Why?
Because it has become an agents' subjective
abyss. The computer has enabled anyone to type
words on a screen, press a key to make a paper
copy of what is supposed to be a story and call
it a manuscript. They believe that spelling
and grammar check will cure all their mistakes.
Oh boy, if it were only that simple!
Todayís acquisitions editors and publishers
are all looking for ďthe next best-sellerĒ,
which is a novel that is judged to have tremendous
commercial appeal. It not only has to have commercial
appeal, they also want the author to be extremely
talented, and possibly a known celebrity.
Editors also rely upon the agents to pluck
good commercial novels from self-published and
novice writers. Forget the fact that a writer
may have written a blockbuster
story. What good is a great story if it lands
on an agentís desk and it isnít his or her "cup
of tea"? It hits the slush pile and a form rejection
letter is sent to the waiting author. So, as
a result many good novels never get to a publishing
The publishing world is cold and unrewarding
most of the time. A writer, unless he or she
has a natural knack for spinning a yarn, will
usually never have their first manuscript published.
Even if a writer queries one hundred agents
and receives rejections letters from all of
them, itís not time to quit, but itís time to
write another book. Maybe the second book will
also be rejected many times. Is that the time
to "toss in the towel"? Hell no! Write another
book. A true writer will write as many books
as it takes to hone his or her skills That writer
will also read continually, and research more
thoroughly for each and every book.
Personally, Iíd like to believe the reason
that a lot of books never get published is not
because there arenít a great many talented storytellers.
I take stock in the fact that there are not
enough books being published because a small
number of publishing houses (the big seven)
control what is being printed.
My dream is to see the revision of the mass-market
paperback. Too bad all the small publishers
like: Dell, Bantam, Ace, Avon and Harlequin,
were swallowed-up by the big fellows. A writer
had a chance, after WW II, to become a success.
Well, enough reminiscing and on to the work
The nut in the publishing shell is
marketability. Will the subject matter or story
appeal to the masses? It must. Because publishing
is all about investment and return to the publishing
company and its stockholders.
The eternal question is, "What must an aspiring
novelist do to get published in the fiercely
Letís take a look at a few approaches to achieve
A few years ago the genre Christian Fiction
was only a blip in the fiction world. Today
itís the hottest in attracting readers. The
Nashville-based Ablington Press and Thomas Nelson,
the publisher of Inspirational books, canít
stop their presses from printing. Acquisition
editors are crediting the improved quality of
Christian Fiction plus its expanded
fields such as: Amish fiction, Historical fiction
and Supernatural fiction.
Weíre seeing more books that confront the spiritual
world, in which Christian faith is tested by
challenges from the fantasy world. The conflict
of "good vs. evil" isnít new, but writers are
handling it in a new way by spinning off many
sub-genres that are catapulting up the best
Another road to being a successful writer is
the path of writing magazine articles.
If that type of writing is of interest, the
best thing to do is take a course or buy a book
about the art of article writing. Peter Nisbetís
web site Article
Articlesbase.com could help.
Naturally, the first thing that must be done
is to select a subject for the article and research
the subject thoroughly. Then, select several
magazines that might be interested in that type
of article and write query letters to the magazineís
editors for an approval to submit.
First and foremost, itís best that you read
the magazines that are targeted for the articles.
Go to the library to check out the various types
of magazines. The masthead of a magazine should
show the proper information aboutf who to contact
for their guide-lines. The library or the Internet
can supply the names of books that are available
on How to Query Magazines.
Once the ok is given to submit the
article, one of the best rules to follow is
to read the article several times, and then
rewrite if necessary to be sure that itís properly
edited and impressive.
In the beginning, most writers have to ask
to submit articles. But, after time, some magazines
will request writers to submit articles. They
can depend on their readersí feedback
on the subject.
Another way to become a "Freelance Writer"
is to search the Internet. Check out web sites
Freelancehomewriters.com and Writersmarket.com.
If the magazine route isnít your forte, then
try contacting agents and publishers by networking
with other writers who have been published or
by joining writerís clubs, going to writerís
conventions, attending signings/lectures, signing-up
for workshops and writing programs, and entering
fiction writerís contests.
On rare occasions just plain luck
from writing about a hot subject at
the right time, can miraculously get the job
But in the real world of publishing, the earmarks
of a marketable book are: writing a real page
turner, presenting life-like characters, having
convincing details in the storyís plot and characters,
creating dialogue with tempo, being almost flawless
in grammar and punctuation, being able to show
the story by letting readers experience scenes
that become visual instead of just telling the
story, and having all of the above in a 70,000
or 80,000 word manuscript.
Hellís bells, thatís not all. Itís incumbent
upon the writer to provide a market search,
- The estimated size of the bookís potential
- Describe your potential market with statistics.
- Is your book similar to others, and if it
is, what makes yours different?
- How will you help to promote the book?
Sound like a Herculean task? You betcha!
Thatís why the magazine route to being published
is one of the best possibilities. With published
articles, a writer has clips (proof
of the articles) to add to their curriculum
vitae. The more the merrier to convince an agent
or publisher that you are a dedicated writer
and have a readers' following.
Before closing let me point out, most good
writers experience slow incremental growth,
and through failure, will hopefully gain knowledge
from rejection. This hard crust can become
the survival outer coating that is needed on
a writerís long, arduous journey to success.
No matter how you approach your literary journey
to success in the "Fiction Market" it will take
the ability to accept rejection time and time
I think best selling author Jodi Picoultís
answer to rejection says it all, "When you first
donít succeed, you have two options: slink back
into ignominy or come at it again with a vengeance."