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A Modern-Day Literary Salon

Susan Cushman, who has an amazing blog at Pen & Palette, hosted a wonderful literary salon at her house on Saturday. Neil White of Triton Press spoke to about thirty-five writers about the hybrid publishing option. I learned many things. I wanted to share a few with you.

* When revising, look for scenes hiding in your sentences.

Neil encouraged us to get our manuscripts in the best possible shape before trying to publish them in any way. As an illustration, he read a sentence followed by the full-blown scene that resulted when the sentence was “revised.” This so dramatically revealed the difference between copy-editing revision and developmental editing, it was startling. Look at sentences in your manuscript. Think about what’s behind them. See if one is standing in for what could be a stunning scene.

* Being accepted by a publisher means the publisher thinks it can sell your book.

This sounds horribly simplistic, but for most of my writing career I’ve viewed getting a novel published as something that would give me the stamp of literary validation. Someone in the business would have determined I’d written something good enough to publish.
That’s not true.
Yes, some books might be bought because they are so well-written the book can’t help but sell (think Life of Pi, which, I need to point out, was rejected repeatedly by agents). But the books aren’t bought because they’re so well-written; they’re bought because the publisher thinks the books will sell. What you get from a publisher is a stamp of salability.
The question is: what are YOU getting out of your three publishing options? Will one make you more money than the other? Is that important to you? Will one get you more readers? Is that important to you? Does one, day-to-day, ask you to do activities you enjoy more than the others do?
Of course, I’m saying you, but I mean me. What basis, other than validation, am I going to use to decide my publishing route?

* To find an agent, go to a writers’ conference and meet one.

If you want to be traditionally published, you need an agent. In discussing how very hard it is to get an agent, Neil recommended we find a writers’ conference (or two) where you are given the opportunity to make a pitch to an agent. If the agent likes your story—and understands why you are the very person to write it—she or he might request a manuscript. I’ve been to a few such conferences, but not since I was trying to sell a novel. It seems like a lot of money to spend just to get a shot at an agent, but, hey, if the conference is in a fun place, you go with fun friends . . .

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

finding an agent at a writing conference, getting an agent, how to publish, hybrid publishing, revising the novel, revising tips, self-publishing, traditional publishing, triton press, writers' conferences

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