There are several things I wish I'd known before jumping into the pursuit of publishing. It's not to say I wouldn't have reached for that star anyway, but I (hope) I would have been just a might bit more careful in doing so to avoid getting scorched. The focus of Mr. Cavanaugh's post is one of those important revelations. That publishing is one-part book and three-parts sales it is another.
Wouldn't it be great if a curriculum existed to guide new writers? The objective would be clear: To keep new authors from making huge mistakes before they land a contract AND ensure they know this boat may not land soon. Below that on the syllabus, in four levels, one would find additional objectives. Tasks should be completed before moving to the next level, and all should be completed before the big pitch. I.E. (these are off the top of my head, so don't shoot me):
- The secret Jack Cavanaugh wrote about
- Basic story structure--Yes, there is one
- Basic writing/publishing definitions
- Common errors for new writers ("speaker tags," she said adroitly; head hopping)
- Books to read before moving to the Second Level
- Why hoping an agent will love your story so much, they'll ignore the writing is a bad idea
- Why You Should Watch What You Say on Loops and Comments!
- Joining a writers group/organization
- Don't break the rules--For Now
- Learning to recognize telling
- Genre definitions
- Category vs Title
- Writing query letters
- Why you can't send unsolicited queries
- Why a writers' conference
- Pitching at conferences and what to avoid
- Deeper POV
- You're still telling!
- Defining audience
- Researching your target market
- Researching your target publisher publisher
- Why you should have know the previous before starting your novel
- How to pitch
- Query letters--What you thought you knew
- Polishing the manuscript
- One Sheets
- The Big Pitch
- Are you concerned about obtaining a copyright? Return to the First Level Start
- Are you stressing over your title? Return to First Level Start
- Underline the telling in this passage: Adolf heard the soldiers running down the corridor. He tested the window. It wouldn't open. Then he remembered the trap door. Can't? Return to Second Level Start
But then again, learning these aspects may very well be an integral part of a writer's journey. As I once heard a young, legally blind man say, "There is no strength where there is no struggle."
And our stories thrive on struggles.