Would-be Authors to Get a Chance to Learn the Publishing Process

Literary consultant and former executive director of the Writers’ League of Texas Cyndi Hughes will lead a one-day workshop to teach aspiring authors about the modern-day publishing process.

“The Publishing Path: Finding a Home for your Book” will be held Saturday, March 3, 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. on the Rice campus. This is the second time this workshop has been offered, and the interest level has been high.

We asked Cyndi a few questions about what she sees happening among would-be authors these days:

What are the common misunderstandings people have about the publishing process?
I would say that the most common misunderstandings are:
• Writing is EASY! Anyone can do it.
• Writing a book is all you have to do; you don’t need to know anything about the business of publishing.
• Once I get an agent, my book will magically appear and hit the best-seller lists.
• If a writer gets a book published, he or she can quit her day job and write full time.

What are errors that people tend to make in the process?
So many writers don’t know what they need to know about writing and the business of getting published that they don’t make informed decisions. I cringe whenever I get call from a writer saying something like “Well, I just received my 500 self-published books. How do I get reviewed in Publishers’ Weekly?”  or “I just finished my book, and I don’t have time to find an agent, Give me some names of agents I can contact.” The business just doesn’t work that way, and many writers do not take the time to learn about publishing.

A corollary to that is the writer who refuses to treat his or her writing like a business, something that is crucial, even for writers who are published by major publishing houses. A wise observer — I wish I could remember who — said that publishing is 5 percent writing and 95 percent marketing and business. The actual percentages might be more like 20 and 80, but largely, I think that’s true.

Another big error I see writers make is taking costly shortcuts, usually in the name of saving money. Examples include failing to hire a good editor to review his or her book before sending it to an agent or publisher, not double checking facts or sources, designing a book yourself just because you have design software, or rushing out an ebook when more work on the manuscript would have made it a much stronger book.

What types of books do you see people writing these days?
The good news is that almost everything goes these days. I’m not really seeing one big trend besides zombies and vampires, which I am SO over with one exception: I can’t wait for Justin Cronin’s “The Twelve,” the sequel to “The Passage.” Call me a misty-eyed optimist, but I truly believe that if a writer writes the book that he or she really wants to write, something good will happen!

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