Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Can anyone write and get published?

The other day, someone I met mentioned she was writing a book. Naturally I was curious and asked what it was about. She said it was about her life. I said, "So you're writing a memoir?" I received a blank stare. I explained what a memoir was and we discussed fiction vs narrative non-fiction. She said she had spoken with a publisher and I questioned who it was. She couldn't remember the name but said, "It's something like 'Universe'." I said, "Is it iUniverse'? She got excited and said "yes."

"So you're going to self-publish?" Once again, that blank look. I asked her if she had a way to distribute her book? She hadn't thought about that.

It appears everyone who can hold a pen or type on a keyboard is trying to write a book. I don't mean as a hobby or for the joy of writing in and of itself, but books that they aspire to have published. Don't get me wrong. That's my goal as well, and everyone is entitled to shoot for the stars, but I have to question what is really going on.

If you read agent blogs, you know how many query letters they receive and how the slush piles are rife with material that does not meet the criteria for publication. If I'm not qualified, I want to know about it. I'm not too proud to admit it if the feedback I receive is not positive. I may not be happy about it, but I have to face the facts.  Fortunately, I have received good feedback, but this is only the beginning. I let my co-workers read my manuscript as I wrote it and they gave their input. They were always anxious to read the next chapter so that was a good sign. I also wanted more objective feedback.

I read pages at the Columbia University Writers Forum. That was the first time I revealed my writing to people who didn't know me. Again, the response was positive. I received suggestions that I found helpful. Tomorrow, I'll be attending the Backspace Agent-Author Seminar. My query letter will be critiqued as well as opening pages.

I need to know if I'm on the right track. Do I have what it takes to be a successful published author? I think I do, but my opinion doesn't really count. The publishing professionals and readers at large have to agree with me. My mission, at this time, is to find out if they do.

What are your thoughts about this? Can everyone who wants to be published, be so?

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