The writer-ish and writerly questions are starting to trickle in

By Your Salonniere

The load of frustration between the published author and the aspiring writer remains just as heavy and unwieldy no matter which end of the spectrum you’re at. As one published writer put it, once you get your book in print, you’ve just traded in for another set of problems. Granted they may be “new and improved,” but they’re problems all the same.

Questions about how to get published and reactions to the brutal business of publishing are slowly trickling into the salon, where we’ve recently received an email from an aspiring writer asking for tips on how to get published.

Below follows your Salonniere’s humble and candid response:

I have to be honest and say that publishing is an incredibly difficult business, requiring a lot of time, energy, and money. There’s no easy fix and many writer friends of mine, if not all, have dedicated years of their life to get their books published. I have a feeling that you’re not going to appreciate my response, and you’ve probably heard the same spiel from others you’ve talked to and through the research you’ve conducted, so my apologies if you’re already enlightened to the cold bare truths of getting published.

Before even considering trying to get published, your friend needs to find a reliable editor or book doctor. This often costs money, but its absolutely essential that every writer has a professional editor review their manuscript, just as we have our essays peer reviewed in class. The revision based on a trusted and professional critique is crucial. Author Jody Hedlund wrote a recent blog post on this very topic.

After the crucial editing and revision, thankfully, we have more options available to us with digital technology. Your friend will want to consider which publishing route he wants to go. There are three basic ways, but these are changing with the technology. I’ve included links with more details:

1. Traditional- this is the arduous, painstaking and frustrating route of finding an agent, which requires having a polished and edited manuscript, writing pitch perfect query letters, researching agents who fit the writing, and then sending out your query letter with sample of manuscript, depending on what kind of book it is, to entice the agent to sign you on. Once you get agent representation then the agent knocks on publishing houses with manuscript in hand, in the hopes to get your work accepted and published by a big press. For more info check out a post from

2. Independent Press -You can submit proposals yourself or a sample of manuscript and/or enter contests from small presses, like university presses, which require submission fees–all without agent representation. New Pages has compiled a comprehensive list of small presses.

3. Self-publish/vanity press- requires money, but there’s several new websites that can assist with raising funding like Kickstarter or Rockethub. Check out a post from Underdown for more info on the pros and cons of self-publishing.
Here’s some links and resources that give a much more comprehensive overview on the different ways of getting published:

Rachel Gardner on “How to Get Published”

Right Reading on “How to Publish”

Poets & Writers

Funds for Writers

None of the above options are an easy route. All of them take a great deal of time, years, really. I hate to be brutally honest, but this the nature of the beast. Unfortunately, there’s just no getting around it. I wish you all the best luck and regret not being as positive and encouraging as I’d prefer. I will say that I have endless reserves of faith and believe that anyone who is willing to do the hard work and commit the time will find their reward through practicing the art of writing.


Where do you find yourself on the never-ending journey of writing? What words of wisdom would you share with the aspiring writer and the published author?

With tongue firmly planted in cheek, here’s one of the best videos that demonstrates the reality and the delusions about writing and publishing:

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