Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Writer Wednesday: A Somewhat Magical Formula

It's Writer Wednesday here at Astraea Press and we are pleased to have Therese Gilardi guest posting about becoming published and the magic powers she employs for those endeavors. Take it over Therese...

A Somewhat Magical Formula

            Whenever people find out I’m a published writer they inevitably want to know how I managed to land my poems, prose and essays between the covers of numerous magazines, journals and book covers. Even those who disdain reading are curious. To some, becoming a published writer is a twenty-first century parlor trick, requiring some sort of sleight of hand or at least a lot of luck. Writers and non-writers alike insist there must be a secret handshake, or perhaps a how-to manual not available to the general public. I understand this mentality, for that’s how I thought when I first set pen to paper.
            Back in the day (that would be 2002), sending out queries meant that the writer had to spend hours pouring over publishers’ guidelines that were often out-dated by the time they hit bookstore and library shelves. These guidelines directed the writer where to send a cover letter, writing sample and the all-important SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope). Hours were spent crafting submission packets, which then had to be carted to and from the post office. Submitting a poem or short story was a labor intensive and often costly undertaking that required the patience of Job, since it was not at all unusual to hear of response times upwards of eighteen months. Ah, the good old days.
            I don’t think so. For, while today’s e-publishing marketplace does bring with it the peril of online piracy and the depressing demise of the brick-and-mortar bookstore, it also heralds a time of great opportunity for the writer. Online publishers’ guidelines make it a snap to find out where to submit that essay on the eating habits of iguanas or that short story about a talking baseball bat. The ability to contact potential publishers from any place with an Internet connection means far less time is spent going about the tedious task of formulating submissions packets, which frees up far more time for the writer to spend on developing her craft.  E-submissions equal less paper waste, generally much shorter response times and a more egalitarian process, since the cost of postage is no longer a barrier driving writers of lesser economic means from the marketplace.
            Since 2002 my work has appeared in print and online. There are advantages and disadvantages to both formats. While I’m convinced that there is still no perfect method for ensuring that a piece of work will ultimately reach the marketplace, I’m convinced that e-publishing has allowed many more writers to hone their craft and submit their work for consideration. Ultimately this means that far more writers are able to see their words in print. Which sounds to me like a pretty magical formula for success.

"What do you like best about e-publishing? What, if any, changes would you make to the e-publishing format?"
To Therese or find out more about her name.


  1. Like about e-publishing: That's easy. It's open to exploration - it's our new frontier. We will be able to travel, via e-publishing, "where no one has gone before." And yes, maybe it means we won't have that paperback to hold in our hands--mice got into my bookshelves last winter anyway. Maybe people don't take us as seriously because we can't hand over a signed copy. And yes, piracy is an issue (but it is for print books as well, and also for music and movies. But, as digitally published authors, we are the crew members on The Starship Enterprise setting out to explore the new frontier and it can only get better from here.

  2. E-publishing has come a long way since the early days. When my first book came out it was in print, and the local newspaper agreed to review it provided it wasn't 'one of those ebooks.'

  3. Great post on where things used to be. :-)
    I think what the great upset is for authors right now is where do self-epub and trad pub fit together. If there was a simple manual it might take the pressure off but right now all authors see is a tangled mess. Agents reject 99% of submissions based on quality then, marketing slots. Publishers are cutting midlist while stores are required to have 80% sell-through. E-pub is rising like crazy but self-pub is vying for the position as the future. Authors are arguing for mediums like religions.
    As an author all I see is a turbulent mess where my work can get lost. I don't think it's so much how to get published right now as how to guarantee that you're not going to sink in the long run(dorchester). That is what terrifies me as a writer.