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Writing Industry, Writing Life

Getting ready for publication: Research the writing industry

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.~ Confucius

I had 8 months between undergrad and grad school. I had this huge amount of time on my hands and I spent 4 months of that year polishing up  my mysteries.

To most people, unpublished writing is useless writing so I’m sure many of you have experienced being asked “when are you going to get published?” if you bring up the fact that you write in conversation.

I didn’t plan on attempting the whole “trying to get published” experience until I had a day job and was relatively settled but it was a good time to start doing research on the “writing industry”

Word Count: Novels vs Novellas

I discovered that my stories were too short. I always found it albeit annoying when I googled up novels and word count, there were endless posts about trying to shave off 20K words from a 100K + novel when it took tears, sweat and blood for me to get to 60K.


Agents bulk at selling novellas especially from an unpublished author. Nothing less than 80K would work for a mystery novel. I did more research and if I did just want to write novellas , then there are the eharlequin lines

Rewrite: Hitting 80k would have been “easier” if I outlined for it from the get-go

  • Make sure characters were developed to their fullest
  • Add a subplot or 2 relating to the original plot
  • Develop a minor character
  • Work on pacing

Daunting but I am willing to give it a shot and if it doesn’t work out, maybe those stories are fine as they are. I just have to start anew. Write another book making sure to incorporate all metioned above and plan for at least 80 K this time

Writing credentials: Yes Like any other job, you should have a resume

If you are already published well this isn’t a problem  If you aren’t- maybe you have a degree in a writing related field a B.A in English or Journalism or an MFA. You may have even gotten some of the short stories you wrote during your undergraduate/graduate years published in a magazine or journal.

There are a few solutions to this one

  • Enter Contests. Notable ones that relate to your genre. Win first place or be among the top finalists
  • Join critique groups-  You get advice from published & unpublished writers (even better if they write in your genre)
  • Join Professional writing organizations- Okay so some of biggies only accept authors that have published at least 1 novel but certain chapters might be more lenient or they might have a chapter for the newbies

It was a good thing I started doing my research early. At least, I know what I need to get done when I am ready.



7 thoughts on “Getting ready for publication: Research the writing industry

  1. I know how you feel…

    I have had this experience a few times over the few last years and it always results in me going, “Okay, now that I think about it, this story isn’t ready yet.” It sucks and it hurts and it’s exasperating and unfair, but if anything, it makes you more determined. If you can go through that and still have faith in your story and still believe that people will enjoy it, then I figure your story will make it, that it is worth it. More than anything, you just can’t give up.
    I heard that John Grisham’s first book was turned down like 25 times or something before some yahoo with half a brain picked it up. This is both encouraging and worrisome, because then you wonder just how many times you’ll have to go through this crap, but, again, it makes you determined and smarter.
    I’m so much smarter when it comes to my stories and noticing where they need work. I’ve been reading some books on self-editing and all that and have gotten even smarter. 🙂
    So, rejections suck major but they are very much a learning experience and though I’m not at all close to being published, I’ve learned a lot from my experience so far in trying to be. I respect my work much more and others will too, hopefully.
    Just hang in there! Keep trying, don’t give up. I know people say that all the time, but you have to just have faith. 🙂
    -JD Allen


    Posted by winkyp | June 3, 2009, 11:06 PM
    • Re: I know how you feel…

      Thanks for your comment! If anything, this experience has taught me to keep trying whether it takes a year or 5 years to get there, I will eventually.
      And yes when I thought about it I realized I still have a lot of work to do.
      I already learned a lot about novel length.
      The only way to write a long/complex mystery is to have at least 2 subplots related to the main plot within the story. Maybe I need a drawing board… lol Simple plots/whodunnit mysteries are no longer looked at which was what I had.
      It was good to know.


      Posted by mdirvine | June 3, 2009, 11:19 PM
  2. Add me?

    Hey, it’s AnnieJean from fictionpress! Will you add me? I’d like to keep following your progress. Please note my username on here is luckymnlassie. Thanks.


    Posted by luckymnlassie | June 5, 2009, 4:48 PM
    • Re: Add me?

      Hey. Sure thing. Thanks for following on here from fictionpress.


      Posted by mdirvine | June 12, 2009, 8:04 PM
  3. I think I might actually be able to help you out. If you want, add me and I’ll give you more details. No, this is not just a ploy to be added, lol, I actually do have something that might interest you.



    Posted by lamouette83 | June 29, 2009, 10:02 PM
    • hmm can i trust a longhorn? lol
      I’ve added you 🙂 and I’m sure there are other ppl from UT Austin on here. I’ve met only one Aggie on here who happened to mention it on a comment or something.


      Posted by mdirvine | June 29, 2009, 10:42 PM
  4. hiii i’m Aurora Corona from FP and I used to read your stories (but now my plate’s full with school. Sucks.)

    Please add? 😀


    Posted by cursed_stars | November 29, 2009, 1:08 PM

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