Monday, February 6, 2012

Navigating the Dark Forest

Dark forests aren't bad.  Actually, they can be alluring, intriguing.  Traveling through one can be an adventure.  The main problem with dark forests is that they are, well, dark.  Again, darkness is not, in itself, a bad thing.  It comes in quite handy when you are trying to sleep.  But trying to navigate a forest in the dark is daunting and it can lead to injury.  For example, you might trip over an unseen tree root or have your skin ripped off by stumbling into a thorny bush.  Even worse, you might crash into a sleeping animal--one with big fangs--that might not be too happy with you for disturbing its sleep.  All right.  Admittedly, I'm getting a bit carried away.  I'm a writer.  In the dark forest, my imagination would turn each small sound into a dangerous animal, ghost or ax murderer.  Animals and ax murderers aside, the fact is that a dark forest is difficult to navigate because you can't see. That makes it hard to decide which way to go.  It helps to have a map and a flashlight or, even better, a guide.

I cannot guide you safely through the dark forest of trying to market your writing, but I can share some of the things I've discovered as I've tried to sell my works.  Perhaps the information can provide a partial map to the forest (or a least a little flashlight shining on the path).

As the axiom says, every journey begins with a first step, and the first step of trying to get published is to decide where to submit your manuscript.  This is a major step and not an easy one.  Really it needs to be broken into a series of little steps.  First, decide if your manuscript is of a sufficient length to be submitted to publisher or an agent.  If you are just starting out as a writer, it is perhaps better if you begin with shorter works and try to get them published in magazines or journals.  Why?  If you can get several short pieces (stories, poems or articles) published then, when you decide to market your book, you can show potential publishers or agents that you have a proven track record.

The next step is to decide which magazine is the best market for your manuscript.  Again, this is a more daunting task than it might at first seem.  There are literally thousands of publications. How do you choose?  Where will your piece have the greatest chance of being published--or for that matter--read?  How do you determine this?  Some suggestions next time.

Thanks for reading!  C.F.