Guest blog with author, David Bernstein.
The best piece of advice I ever received when it came to writing was to “just write.” The second was to “read a lot.” Those two things go without saying. If you don’t do either, even if you only do one, then the rest of this article probably isn’t going to help you.
My first novel originally started out as a short story. I wrote two more chapters and thought I was done. I put it aside and began writing something else. I constantly went back to the novel, but it was like my mind was cemented in place when it came to thinking of where to go next. So I put it aside again and wrote more shorts. Two months later I was working on the novel again, my mind able to continue the tale.
After sending the FINISHED manuscript out, the rejections started rolling in. While this was happening I was already writing my next novel. Don’t wait around to see what happens with your book, move on once it’s out of your hands. When I was finished with my second novel, I sent it out and received a few partial and full manuscript requests, but mostly I received brother and sister rejections to my first novel.
I was thrilled my manuscript had piqued their interest! So I waited. And waited. Nothing. Never heard from them again. Don’t let this get to you. It happens to us all. It’s just a part of the industry.
So I had written two novels and received little to no interest in them from the publishing world, but I kept writing.
Then in 2011 The Bram Stoker Awards came to NY. Doesn’t get much bigger than that, so I went. I met new people, made friends, received great advice, networked and just had a blast. I went to the pitch session figuring I’d try it out.
I was a little nervous, but grew more nervous when I saw who else was at the pitch session. Authors whose books I had at home on my shelves. I thought I might be in the wrong place. Where was the newbie pitch session?
When all was said and done, I had a few manuscript requests.
Now, having had my manuscripts requested before, I was weary about hearing back, but we were asked to include in our query that we were part of the pitch session and supplied with different emails than if you’d blindly submitted through the website. What does this all tell you? Going to pitch sessions at conventions is a way to get a foot in the door, give a name to the face, make you and your work stand out. The publishers, agents and editors that attend the conventions are there to be amongst people in the industry and to find new writers and manuscripts. If you want to be an author/writer, I highly suggest going to a convention, even ones without pitch sessions, as I’ll explain.
I attended my next convention about four months later. I met new people, made new friends, networked, saw some of the people I’d met at The Bram Stoker Awards and had a blast. I also had a chance to do a reading. A publisher was present. A publisher I really thought highly of and the company he represented. After the reading he asked me to send it to him. I couldn’t get home fast enough. A week later I received an acceptance email and a contract for the second novel I’d written.
Later that week, I received an email from one of the people I pitched to at The Stokers. He loved my novel and wanted it. The first novel I’d ever written, after I’d almost given up on getting it published, had not only found a home, but a great one.
So you never know when things are going to happen, but sitting around waiting isn’t going to help. Get out there and give yourself an edge. Have fun! Doctors, lawyers, mechanics, teachers, all have their communities, and so do writers. The writing community is a fabulous and extremely supportive one so don’t be shy or think you aren’t good enough.
Stay positive, be patient, get out there and attend conventions.