I'd like to welcome Karina Fabian, author of Mind over Mind, to the blog. Before I hand the floor over, here is a little about our guest.
Bio of Karina Fabian: Unlike her characters, Karina Fabian lives a comfortably ordinary life. Wife to Air Force Colonel Robert Fabian and mother of four, her adventures usually involve packing and moving, attending conventions, or giving writing and marketing advice in one of her many workshops. She's always had an overactive imagination, however, and started writing in order to quell the voices in her head--characters who insisted on living lives in her mind and telling her their stories. Winner of the 2010 INDIE award, winner and finalist for the EPPIE and finalist for the Global e-book awards, she's glad people enjoy reading the tales her characters tell.
Please welcome Karina Fabian (applause)
I wrote my first novel back in 1986, mostly because I was challenged by a professor who liked a short story I'd written and thought it was the good beginnings of a novel. I spent a whole summer outlining it, lost the outline, decided it wasn't that great anyway, and wrote a second version. My professor introduced me to a writer friend of his and I shyly called and asked a few questions about publishers while in the back of my mind, I imagined him introducing me to his agent and taking me under his wing. Of course that didn't happen.But I took his advice and bought Writer's Market and started querying. I got a lot of rejections, some with handwritten notes. I no longer have them, but they were more a testimony to my complete ignorance of the publishing industry and of writing. It was many, many years later that I had my first novel published, and it wasn't the one I'd written in college.
A lot of us hope that someday, we'll find that person who will love our work and help us to hone our story then connect us to a publisher. I still dream of that. However, finding a mentor right off, just by asking, is a rarity, and usually comes from a build-up we didn't even know we'd done--like the friend of a friend who is already impressed by our story. We won't find it by "ambushing" established writers. Still, you find people who will go to a writers' chat room and their first questions is, "Who will critique my novel?" Sometimes, I get e-mails asking me to recommend publishers (or recommend them to a publisher)--and if I'm getting them, I know more famous authors do.
A better way to handle this is to develop the relationships rather than jumping to the goal. Find critique groups in your local area or online. Go to conventions and meet people--talk to them about their books, share your story, keep in contact. Find writers' workshops--there are a lot online as well as live. Take the classes and use them to show off as well as hone your writing. (My first novel contract came from a workshop I took from a publisher who liked the story I submitted as homework.)
Learn the business side of publishing: how to write a query, what an elevator pitch is, how to write a synopsis, a book proposal, etc. Read up on what's happening with publishers. Seek out agents who are starting in the business. You can do this by reading Publisher's Weekly, Writers' Market, or many of the blogs by publishers, agents and writers in your genre. Jim Butcher (Dresden Files) said that when he found the agent he wanted, he learned about her, met her at a convention, struck up conversation and got to know her before presenting her with his book.
Be willing to give as well as receive. If you want your book or story critiqued, then be ready to comment on others' works as well. And please have a thick skin when it comes to receiving a crit. Most people take time--hours even--to comment on a story. Even if you totally disagree, be gracious, especially if it's by an established author.
Through it all, keep writing! That book I wrote in 1986 stayed in the drawer for 20 years. In the meantime, I wrote stories, edited anthologies and wrote articles. When I started thinking about novels again, I pulled it out, realized how awful it was, and completely reworked the concept. That book is now a trilogy, the first book of which, Mind Over Mind, is out from DragonMoon Press. Sometimes, I look back at the person I was when I wrote the first version, and I'm kind of glad I didn't get my wish back then. I had to learn a lot--and my stories are far better for it.
Karina, Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope the rest of your Mind over Mind blog tour goes well.