How to Get Published
It’s every writer’s dream to see his/her by-line on a newspaper or magazine, more so in books, but it’s not a walk in a park. It doesn’t happen in a snap. Two-time published author shares how he did it
BY EXCEL V. DYQUIANGCO
Getting your first manuscript published is never easy – it takes time, perseverance, and a whole lot of patience. Sometimes you just want to throw in the towel because you keep on being rejected. But in order to reach your dreams, that is one thing you should never do.
When I first submitted my second children’s manuscript Lala Burara to Hiyas many years ago, I never heard from anyone about it. I submitted again just recently and after a year, the editor gave me the good news.
I am no expert in the publishing field but like any other would-be-writers who want to get published, I had my share of ups and downs – and lessons – and sharing all of these with you is a great privilege.
So here are some tips and pointers in order to get published:
1. Start with a good story.
Naturally you need a good story that editors would love: A compelling plot, memorable and believable characters, heart-wrenching dialogue and of course, a good command of the English or the vernacular language. Start with an idea that you’ve heard or a story that you’ve witnessed.
Both of my children’s books – I Don’t Like to Eat and Lala Burara – stemmed from my personal experience; the former talked about the dangers of unhealthy eating and the latter about the dangers of messiness.
2. Be marketable.
One of the things that I have learned is that your novel or short story has to be marketable – which means that both young and old would love it, relate to it, and be glad to give it as gifts to their loved ones. Without it, your good story would just fall flat on its face because no one would buy it.
Start with ideas that everyone can relate to. When you’re done with your manuscript, have your nephew or your parents read it. When you hear responses like, “That happened to me too!” or “My parents are just like that!”, then you know that you have gold in your hands.
3. Attend workshops and seminars.
Interestingly this was where I met my editors. In 2003, I am blessed to be part of a writing workshop conducted by one of the leading publisher in children’s books, Adarna House. It was only a two-day workshop where I not only had fun (together with aspiring writers) but I learned a lot, especially when one of the panels consisted of the great Rene Villanueva. Afterwards we were asked to submit our manuscript and after two weeks, I got a call that the publishing house is interested to publish my story. Yes, in two weeks time – probably one of the quickest call times I ever had.
For Lala Burara it is almost the same way. I met my editor through one press conference, introduced myself and decided to re-submit my second children’s book. A year later, I received an exciting email.
4. Be ready for the critics.
When I attended my first writing workshop, I was ready to leave the room in a jiffy. I couldn’t face the panel anymore because what they told me hurt. I had thought that my story was one of my best works and then I heard them talking about the so-many improvements that I need to work on. After the constructive criticism, I remember asking for forgiveness for the story that I wrote. But up to this day, the words of one panellist still linger inside my heart, “Never say sorry for a story you wrote”. He meant it in a good way.
5. Get prepared for the revisions.
In order to know what’s missing in your story, prepare to revise your story. Not just once, not just twice but countless of times. Here is a technique that I usually do: After I am done with a story, I just browse through it – yes browse through it and not read it entirely. After a few days I go back to it where the magical part happens: You suddenly take notice of missing prepositions, wrong grammar, misplaced syntax, run-on sentences, to name a few.
When I learned that Lala Burara is set to be published, it took us a year to revise it. It started as an English story which eventually was translated to Filipino and then I had to work on the English version again. Days before printing, there were still corrections but I thank God it was only minor.
6. Don’t give up.
When the going gets tough, don’t give up. When everything seems against you, don’t throw up your hands. Rejection is part of getting published but never, ever quit writing. I have learned that the best way to deal with rejection is to pray – fall on your knees and ask the Lord to help you with this situation. Circumstances may not be in your favour but God knows what’s best for you.