Monday, March 16, 2015

Books To Look For Next Year

Two years ago he was a graduate student working on his Master of Fine Arts degree, getting an honorable mention at Cornell University for a piece of short fiction that he had written.

Yes, that Cornell of ivy-covered walls and proximity to New York City where the publishing business resides.

Next year at this time, Adam O'Fallon Price will watch his first novel arrive in bookstores. A rapid trajectory? Not really. He has a plump resume of writing credits to his name, and when you're querying literary agents it never hurts to mention publications like "Glimmer Train" or "Paris Review". It shows that you've been vetted by the industry that churns out MFAs.

What if you can't make claim to that sort of history? What if you aren't interested in the more literary aspects of fiction, but the more commercially-oriented?

Do not be discouraged. There is room in publishing for those who teach writing as well.

Midge Raymond will have a novel coming out next year. She has been teaching creative writing for a long time, and even published a book about writing tips that was aimed at people like you who have a story inside but don't quite know how to get it out. Of course, Everyday Writing was a work of non-fiction, so MY LAST CONTINENT will be considered her debut in full-length fiction.

Don't fit into either category of debut fiction writers who have publishing contracts while you do not?

You could try picking up a copy of Ms. Raymond's book and doing a little studying. It might be less time consuming than the old-fashioned idea of reading a lot of novels in all genres to absorb the skills that Ms. Raymond's students learn in a classroom setting.

Have you reached the point where you think you'll have to suck it up and enroll in a graduate program to get your own MFA and then get noticed by literary agents who will land a publishing contract for you?

Ryan Boudinot says no.

He believes that if you are born with talent, you can become a writer. Just because you want to be a writer doesn't mean you can go to school and learn the craft like it's plumbing. Some people want to be dancers but they don't have the body for it, and no amount of education will alter the fact. Creativity is like that. It's built in and you can't just insert it into your head.

And don't forget that if you are determined to be published, you can just go ahead and publish yourself. There are more than enough platforms to use, and more than enough forums to give you all the advice you need to manage the unpleasant tasks of formatting and marketing. Based on a recent article in The Guardian, you might have more luck as a woman writer if you avoid the old-school publishing industry, which appears to be heavily skewed towards male authors.

In essence, there is no well-marked road to follow that will lead you to a publishing contract and possible fame. It's a rock-strewn path that could as easily send you off on a dead end as direct you to the door of HarperCollins.

What does it take to become a published author? A touch of insanity would help.

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