Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Five ways to remain unpublished

Let me give you some examples of how not to publish your novel, plucked straight from my own experience. I have three completed and two partial novels, all unpublished.

Here's how I maintain that perfect record.

Poor Hook

I'm not saying your hook should be bad, but the overall hook should be fairly weak. A strong hook is liable to get you published, and that just means more work.

Poor Plot

If you develop a plot at all, make it weak and predictable. Preferably, your work should ramble and contain scenes unrelated to the overall piece -- for "artistic" purposes.

Write What Doesn't Sell

Unless you want to risk publication, write about a topic that is either dead, over-used, boring, or too obscure. If you choose a genre, learn nothing of its rules.

Or better yet, call yourself an artist and write "literature" and scoff at the published writers, all of them busting their asses in the trenches for The Man. Use confusing sentences and complain like a colicky baby drinking curdled milk.

Under-edit and Under-write

Don't edit the work, but if you happen to revise it, make it worse.

It is wise to consider stopping halfway through the novel. Develop a case of The Fuckits and give up entirely. This best occurs around the 30-40k word mark and you can at least claim a "partial" novel and complain how "life just got in the way."

Be Faithless

Remain completely dedicated to the fact that your work is inferior and unpublishable, and that your ideas are not sound. Blame your critics for "not getting you." Eventually, you should give up on writing, and lay the guilt on someone's head for giving you a bad review and discouraging you.

I have a ton more: Alcohol. Women. Work. Procrastination. Women. Facebook. Blogging. The list goes on and on...

What lessons have you learned about how to remain unpublished?

- Eric


Nighfala said...

Be such a perfectionist that you second guess every detail of your work. Keep starting over from the beginning.

Christine Danek said...

Good pointers. I'll keep these in mind.

Jemi Fraser said...

That'll do it - thanks for the reminders :)

Andrew Rosenberg said...

Did you just throw your own mother under the bus??

Jody Hedlund said...

Yep! I think it's when we start to think too highly of ourselves that we run into problems! The key is to stay teachable and keep on growing in our writing skills, work hard, stay determined! :-)

Eric W. Trant said...

Christine H: Ah, perfectionism! It's a disease. My therapist says son. Seriously. "Perfectionism is a disease," she said.

Christine D, Jemi: As always, I hope to help others learn from my mistakes. I think you have quite a list of pointers by now!

Andrew: Yes, I threw Mom under the bus. She and I had this discussion -- again -- a couple of weeks ago. I told her she had no one to blame but herself and she said, "I know, I know," and then went on to tell me how discouraging her one reviewer had been, and how if he had just been more positive she could have been a published author.

Jody: Ah, another lesson in how to remain unpublished! Good one! Think too highly of yourself and be completely unteachable.

Guilty as charged on that one, I am.

- Eric

Matthew MacNish said...

My own personal journey of not getting published went like this:

Write a novel in which the agents like the voice, enjoy the writing, but whose word count 4-5 times longer than any debut novel ever published.

Also be sure to query way too many agents before learning how things really work so that now that I have re-written and the novel is much better there is no one left to ask to rep it.

Okay, I still haven't given up, but let that be a lesson: know what you're doing before you query. Really.

Raquel Byrnes said...

I like to make sure I have several books going at once and then spend hours "researching" stuff on Youtube.

This ensures that I don't get any actual writing done for several days and then I try to freak out, pound out some chapters I totally hate, and then chuck the whole idea.

Works like a charm.

Sarah Ahiers said...

OOh, don't forget to insult the agents, their clients, and the whole publishing business

Nighfala said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Or conversely, call yourself the next great American Novelist. Agents and editors love that move.

Along with totally ignoring all standard protocol. Pink perfumed paper and chocolate bribes will not get you published by any agent who isn't color blind. However, it won't stop them from sharing your chocolates and your mistakes over a margarita with coworkers.

Eric W. Trant said...

Matt: Make a bad name for yourself early. Genius.

Raquel: Research & chuck. That wastes like 100% more time than simply writing and chucking. Better still if you could do it drunk.

Falen: Get with Matt and combine your methods.

Christine: Yes, I have a therapist, and yes, she is expensive. It's the medication I hate, though, owing to its side-effects. I got off the meds a while back and now prefer to self-medicate.

Cat: Over-state your worth! Beautiful. Nothing like a cocky wannabe with no credentials other than My mom says I'm special.

Chocolate and pink, though. You might be onto something there.

- Eric

Nighfala said...

Oops, I thought I deleted my comment before you saw it.

Nighfala said...

"Okay, I still haven't given up, but let that be a lesson: know what you're doing before you query. Really."

That's what has me tied up in knots right now. Being sure I know what I'm doing.

Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré said...

Hmmm, perfectionism, ain't I great, research, procrastination, oh, and my favorite, ants in my pants and can't keep it in the chair. Yep, those pretty much sum it up for me...

~That Rebel, Olivia