OCEANSIDE — Have you ever daydreamed of being an author who sits at a home office desk overlooking a meadow while penning the great American novel? Like a record screech interrupting the dream, Authors’ Day keynote speakers let audience know that what it really takes to become a published author is hard work, self promotion and an uncanny wit.
More than 40 authors, poets and book agents shared industry tips at North County Authors and Poets fourth annual Authors’ Day event held at the Civic Center Library on Nov. 5.
The good news is that self-publishing has opened up the field of professional writing to many aspiring authors and poets. Some writers have developed a solid writing career through self-publishing and in the process have been able to maintain complete control of books’ contents, marketing and release dates.
Other self-published writers are content with the achievement of getting their works to small specific audiences.
However, most authors who want their works to be widely read seek traditional publishing through a publishing house.
A few keys shared for getting the attention of a publishing house were to enlist a good editor, target publishers who specialize in your genre, and promote your work throughout the publishing process.
Best-selling author Linda Thomas-Sundstrom is under contract with Harlequin Nocture to write four paranormal romance novels a year. Her novels tell tales of how humans fall in love with vampires or other nonhuman creatures.
“You really need to love what you’re doing,” Thomas-Sundstrom said. “People do have a romantic notion about writing. They don’t realize that you don’t have 10 years to write the book of your heart. I’m perfectly happy with this.”
Thomas-Sundstrom said she has written 11 books and never loses the excitement of seeing her published novel on the bookstore shelf.
“If you hear someone screaming in the Barnes & Noble it’s probably me,” Thomas-Sundstrom said. “It’s just as exciting as the first time.”
Writing a 25,000-word novel every three months is only part of the work. Thomas-Sundstrom must also blog, guest speak, and hold book signings for each published novel.
For many authors the key to getting their works published is securing the services of a literary agent. Kevan Lyon is a founding partner of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency and has more than 20 years experience in the publishing business. Her agency specializes in getting women’s fiction and nonfiction manuscripts ready for publishers to consider for print. Once a manuscript is accepted by the agency, it usually takes a year of rewrites before it is sent to a publisher.
“Most authors that come to us have really taken to writing as a serious pursuit,” Lyon said. “They have done their homework.”
Lyon looks for works that have a fresh perspective and unique plot hook.
“The opening chapter must be amazing,” Lyon said. “The writer needs to keep the story arch so compelling that the reader just can’t put it down.”
The odds of getting a book published by a publishing company are slim for most aspiring authors. Lyon said that out of 200 queries from potential authors who want to be represented, she usually goes forward with four writers and asks them for partial samples of their books.
“It’s a tough row to hoe,” Lyon said.
Lyon advises aspiring authors to pursue writing if it is something they love, if they do the business research, and they have the determination to stick with it.