It was almost exactly three years ago today that Laura and I decided to pursue our dream of becoming published writers. We knew next to nothing about how to write a decent novel, and less than nothing about the crazy mixed-up world of publishing. Like so many newbie writers, we thought we had the most genius, completely unique idea for a young adult novel EVER. In fact, we were sure that if we told anyone about our manuscript or showed our writing to another writer they would STEAL OUR IDEA. Yes, it was THAT good.
Uh, newsflash our idea and our writing sucked ass.
But it took us a lot of months to figure that out and in order to get from point A to point B we had to take some risks.
Risks like sending our manuscript to beta readers (those poor, wretched souls), posting our query on writing forums like AbsoluteWrite and QueryTracker for feedback, entering first line contests on Nathan Bransford's blog and Secret Agent contests on Miss Snark's First Victim's blog. It wasn't easy to take these risks, but we did our research and we used blogs like Writer's Beware and Query Tracker to educate ourselves on what risks were worth taking.
Because here's the thing: If you don't take a risk and put yourself out there, chances are you'll never, ever get published.
There's not an author out there who got published without sending someone their manuscript. Whether it be a fellow writer, an editor, or an agent. If you want your book to be published you have to put it out there sometime. You have to take that risk.
Look, we get that writers have to protect themselves. We've heard the horror stories about dodgy agents and irreputable publishers. And we encourage every writer to do a lot of research before they decide how they're going to put their writing out into the world and who they're going to trust with their words. Because it's a HUGE deal.
But when an opportunity comes along involving reputable publishing professionals and well respected agents or if a random girl on a message board offers to read your manuscript after she ripped apart your query, do yourself (and your writing) a favor and TAKE A CHANCE.
It's called calculated risk. It reminds me a little bit of watching my daughter race my son to our car after a rainstorm. She'll stand in front of a puddle for a second and decide whether or not she can make it over. She's terrified of getting soaked, but she knows she's only going to win if she takes the leap. So she jumps. Sometimes she splashes mud everywhere and cries. But most of the time she makes it. And wins.