Blog Series, Getting Your First Book Published! Tip #1

I know a lot of my friends and even people out there in the blogiverse ask all the time (not to me, LOL, but on their blogs) how to get started writing, how to write their first book, and if they spend all that time and energy writing it, how do they know it’s going to get published at the end of their MFA program or just writing along for years with support groups?

The secret is… you just.can’t.know. Some of it is networking, some of it is luck, and a large chunk of it is just being brave and sending your work to everybody who will take a look at it. Oh, and working your butt off to craft your best possible manuscript.

This next series of posts will be on how I published my first novel, Chimera in New Orleans, and got it listed on multiple sites like Amazon, Walmart, and Barnesandnoble.com and how I got my foot in the door regarding publishing. My book is also in a bookstore in New Orleans but unfortunately because of the coronavirus those in-store book purchases have often been halted because of budget cuts, or I just can’t bring myself to go in person to a bookstore and take that sort of risk for myself or for those who might work in the store and be in an at-risk category. So any advice I will be able to give regarding brick-and-mortar bookstores shelving your work may take quite a while, but it’s gonna get there eventually. šŸ™‚

Today I am going to go through just this first step that you should take if you are serious about your writing:

1. Find a Community

I started to realize after college that I really needed a writing community if I was ever going to get my work to a publishable state. I was teaching middle school right after college, so I didn’t have the writers around me to exchange work or share advice like I did in undergrad.

For me, I decided to go to an MFA program in order to get that community that I needed. I had tried to go to writing groups in my city instead, but a lot of the time they just fizzled out or didn’t quite fit with my personality or what I was looking for in a writing group (diversity, various perspectives, give-and-take). So, I applied for a million MFA programs a few years ago and was lucky enough to be accepted at Northern Arizona University in 2016.

This program had such warm and caring professors. They always wanted to see our work and talk about what they were publishing or working on as well, so it was a great place to be surrounded by professionals and people who were able to educate us about what it takes to create a publishable piece of fiction (or nonfiction!).

This is something I highly recommend that everyone tries to find. While it doesn’t necessarily have to be an MFA program, I really truly believe I would not have gotten published if I had not gone through my MFA in Fiction. The variety of perspectives and constant reading of literary fiction and nonfiction was just invaluable. While I think it is possible to get some of the same collaborative experiences at writing clubs and groups, there is nothing to compare to NAU’s MFA program and it really holds a special place in my heart.

Over the next few days I will be posting tips #2 and #3 so keep a look out for those. Otherwise I really hope this helped someone who might be graduating college soon or is in a different career and wondering if they should take the plunge to get an MFA. Just make sure that you find as much funding as you can for it!

As always I love to hear from you guys and I love it when y’all share your thoughts. Let me know if you are thinking about applying to an MFA program in the comments section. And thank you for reading and all your support! Every like, comment, and follow helps me to grow my blog and my readership and allows me to keep posting more often.

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