Thursday, April 29, 2010

The real submission process?

so, back when i was a young, naive, and optimistic writer, i used to think that simply writing a novel was enough to ensure that your name would soon be on the shelves of every Barnes and Nobles in the country (and maybe the rest of the world, too).

okay, so i'm still young and optimistic and pretty naive, but in the past year, i've learned a few things. (and please, correct me if i'm wrong because i'm basing everything on these surmisations.)

first, with a little research, i discovered something unbelievable: very few authors actually get published. (this shocked me. i was horrified. but eventually, i accepted the frightening truth and realised that high school writing projects just aren't gonna cut it.)

second, i discovered something even stranger: publishers don't look at an author who doesn't have an agent (although i think there are some exceptions).

This led me to the obvious question, just what is a literary agent? i did a little more research and came to my third conclusion: if i ever want to get published, i'm going to have to woo an agent instead of a publisher. (okay! great! does one do that?)

(don't worry. this is all leading somewhere. i am not just ranting.)

my research ultimately led to two important conclusions: to get published, one must get an agent by writing a phenomenal book. AND agents like authors who have been published elsewhere already.

what?!? agents are supposed to help authors get published--how are authors supposed to get published somewhere else first??

and then, with even more frantic research, i discovered fantasy magazines.


but, i still had a couple of questions, and who better to ask than my amazingly brilliant, clever, omniscient writing friends?

so here goes:

how important do you think it is for an author to gain recognition before approaching an agent,


is writing short stories for magazines the best way to gain this recognition?

if you agree that short stories are the way to go (in addition to writing that instant best-seller), then what advice do you have for an aspiring fantasy author who is planning to write said stories? because, i have to admit, i often find short stories to be, in a word, baffling, and i'm not really sure how to go about writing one...

this is definitely one of those times when i want to know what you think.


  1. So I'm not agented. YET. (stifle your laughter.)

    But I've seen lots of agents who say they love to discover new talent. Not all agents, but some are definitely out there.

    My buddy went to a class at the DFW writers conference (I was at DFW, but didn't take the class) on writing for magazines. She was amazed at how hard it is to break into getting published in magazines even. I'm sure it would be nice to have under your belt, but don't feel like it's impossible to get represented by an agent without magazine credits.

    Also, I love this post because I had to go through the exact same set of realizations. My non-author friends have no idea!!

  2. thanks so much for the perspective. i have to confess, i haven't gone to any writers conferences yet, although i have heard of them. i should probably do some digging and find out what they're all about since they sound really important...

    i won't despair even if i never get published in a magazine, but i'm definitely gonna give it a shot this summer when i have time : )

    i know exactly what you mean!! my dad--who doesn't write--was talking about writing a book sometime and wanting me to help him. i was like, um, it's actually really hard to get published. i still don't think he understands...

    i'm really glad you liked the post! i liked yours too--those were some stellar story ideas ; ) and i appreciate you taking time to comment!!!

  3. this is a great post, kari. and really important for aspiring writers! in my opinion, you don't need to have a ton of recognition *before* approaching an agent (though it does help greatly if you do), but it's definitely important to build a platform *after* landing an agent but *before* the book deal -- was that confusing?? lol.

    in any case, it's never a bad idea to start a blog, connect with writers, and get involved in the community. in fact, it's an excellent idea.

    but publishing in magazines? meh. i don't think it will help you all that much. short stories are a completely different animal.

    best of luck with everything though -- you're obviously on the right track!!


  4. ha, that was a little confusing : ) but i think i know what you mean. that's great advice, and very encouraging--thanks!! but i'll feel more like i'm on the right track when i actually have a whole book written and edited and i am sending out queries to agents!
    it is a relief that neither you or MBW (aka Olleymae) think that getting published in a magazine is important. short stories really are their own genre.



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