10 WAYS NOT TO GET PUBLISHED
Most of us want to see our stories or articles in print. Few of us write a novel without wanting to see it out on the store shelf. Why, then, do we continue to do things that keep us from getting published? There are plenty of ways to not get published. Look at the following list and see if you're guilty of doing any of them.
1. Tell yourself, "I'm not a writer." The most successful are not always the most talented. They are those who believe in their capabilities. Belief in oneself is perhaps the top indicator of success as a writer. So go ahead, be self-confident (without being self-absorbed or vain).
2. Procrastinate. We have all said, "I really should write that some day" or "That would make a really good story, but." If you want to fail at becoming a published author, you should make those statements a regular part of your vocabulary. The more you say them, the more you'll act upon them. So don't get into a habit of procrastination. Instead, set definite goals and develop a writing schedule.
3. Don't make writing a priority. If you want to write, spend appropriate time on writing, expend energy on it, and be dedicated to it. Writing should not be put on a back burner. If you want to fail as a writer, tell yourself that there are always other things more important. While writing is not the most important thing in life, if it's an important hobby or activity for you, spend time with it.
4. Accept nothing short of perfection. Often when I ask new writers what they are working on, they'll say something like, "I have this great idea for a story, but I don't think I can write it the way it needs to be written" or "Actually, I've just finished an article, but I really don't think it's good enough." Beginning writers simply need to write. Get that great idea on paper. Then you can go back and fix up things that need to be made stronger and better.
5. Be ruled by the empty page. For many writers, the scariest moment of writing is when they sit down at the computer and see an empty screen. They don't know where to start. If you want to fail and never get published, be ruled by that empty page; believe that the empty page can never become full.
6. Never read. If you never read, you can never learn to appreciate good (and bad) writing. If you never read, you can never learn what type of writing you want to do yourself. As a writer, you should read all sorts of stuff. Read the Bible, nonfiction books, biographies, best-selling fiction, books of essays, poetry, children's books and magazines. Read anything and everything that will expand your writer's mind.
7. Take rejection personally. To succeed, you must get past the idea that a rejection is a personal snub against you. Just because an editor can't use your piece doesn't mean that he or she has a personal problem with you. There are lots of reasons for rejection. Maybe the magazine recently published an article on the same idea, perhaps your book idea doesn't fit in with the publisher's editorial plan, maybe you caught the editor on a bad day. See rejection as an opportunity of improve your article, story or book. See rejection as a reason to get out there and send your material to someone else.
8. Be afraid of editors. What's your image of an editor -- a sour-faced man intent on sending every query letter and proposal back to its author, filling the rejection with mean-spirited criticisms? Believe it or not, every editor I've ever met was a truly nice person. Most editors are interested in a writer's welfare. They are not out "to get" a writer. They simply want to make their magazine or book company publish the best stuff out there.
9. Be unprofessional. Professionalism is the mark of a writer who has developed his craft and knows what the markets require. You must develop professional practices: keep manuscripts clean, check for correct spelling and grammar, be courteous in your letters, always send SASEs, address letters to the appropriate editors, and don't intrude upon an editor's time.
10. Never send anything out. It sounds simple, but it's true. If you never send anything out, you'll never get anything published. So don't let fear get in the way. Take hold of your writing dreams and promise to make them come true.