Getting published. It’s the proverbial carrot, the finish line, the one milestone that might convince your parents that choosing a career as a writer wasn’t a huge mistake. Almost every aspiring writer dreams of the day that they can walk into a bookstore and see their own name on the cover of a shiny new hardcover (or, more realistically, the day they can log into Amazon.com and see their name on a self-published ebook—no judgment, people). But publishing your writing is no mean feat. So here are some helpful (and some not so helpful) quotes on how to get published from some real life published authors.
It’s no secret that many famous authors started their writing careers with a stack of rejection letters. Getting published requires a lot of perseverance, blind faith, and editing. You have to believe that your work has merit even after it’s been turned down time and time again. You have to keep writing, because the only guaranteed way to never get published is to stop trying. You have to learn to love instant ramen and canned tuna.
But there is good news: with the explosion of internet publications they are many, many more ways to get published than ever before. It’s not impossible. So roll up your sleeves and get to writing (after you read this list of quotes, of course).
1. Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.
― Ray Bradbury, “Ray Bradbury’s Nostalgia for the Future,” Writer’s Digest, 1986
2. You have made some notes, read some writing books, and done some research. Mostly what you’ve done is talk about writing a book. An idea for a book is not a book; it is a waste of time. There is no singular thing that makes someone a writer, but there is one thing that makes someone a joke―talking about writing a book without doing any work.
3. Try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.
― Zadie Smith, The Guardian, 2010
4. As a young man just beginning to publish some short fiction in magazines, I was fairly optimistic about my chances of getting published; I knew that I had some game, as the basketball players say these days, and I also felt that time was on my side; sooner or later the best-selling writers of the sixties and seventies would either die or go senile, making room for newcomers like me.
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
― Neil Gaiman, Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing
6. No matter how strong your query letter is, the quality of your writing matters most.
― Paul Raymond Martin, Getting Published
7. The reason 99% of all stories written are not bought by editors is very simple. Editors never buy manuscripts that are left on the closet shelf at home.
― John Campbell, The Little Black Book of Writers’ Wisdom
8. We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.
― Kurt Vonnegut, If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young
9. I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
10. This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.
― Barbara Kingsolver, as quoted by Jim Denney, Quit Your Day Job!
11. Don’t try to anticipate an “ideal reader” – there may be one, but he/she is reading someone else.
― Joyce Carol Oates, Twitter via Brain Pickings
12. The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.
― Robert Benchley, as quoted by James Thurber, The Bermudian, 1950
Images: Ilya Pavlov/Unsplash, Giphy (13)