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shawanda_78


Aug 6, 2007, 5:16 AM

Post #1 of 4 (1419 views)
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Beginning As A New Writer Can't Post

I've begim a new venture in my life, wanting to become a published writer, after writing consistenly for about 14 years. My favorite genre is poetry (I've developed a large collection), but I am also working on my first novel. I want take the right steps and make as few mistakes as possible. I have a few very pertinent questions to ask, believing the answers to these will help me to construct my plan to achieve my goals:

-Is an MFA a requirement for success, or can a writer be successful without one?
-When is the best time to start looking for literary agents to submit to, during the writing of the novel, or once it's completed?
-For a poet who has a large collection, is it better to submit singly to contests and magazines, or to select a book length number of poems and submit to publishers that way?
-Is is a requirement for first time novelists to publish with a smaller press, or are there people who have been able to publish with a larger press his/her first time out?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! :)


jacarty
Jessie Carty
e-mail user

Aug 6, 2007, 8:37 AM

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Re: [shawanda_78] Beginning As A New Writer [In reply to] Can't Post

You will probably get a lot of opinions on this but I'll drop my 2 cents in :) First welcome! 2nd, I'm a poet so I'll be speaking to that.

-Start researching literary magazines and such, perhpas p/u the 2008 poet's market and start sending some work out. Most people don't end up publishing a book w/ out having had poems selected for publication in some lit mags first.
-Contests are also good for individual groups of poems and for collections. If you have a collection then you can start using those as well, again the poet's market is a good resource or some of the magazines like poets and writers for sources that are legit. there are quite a few scam and vanity press markets you want to avoid.

I'd go w/ local lit mags first and try to put together a chapbook of poems (smaller group usually 15-30 pages) and enter those contests and see how that goes. I'm in the same process, giving myself a year and then I am going to reassess by publication status at the end.

Good luck!

--Jessie


http://jessiecarty.com


pongo
Buy this book!

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Aug 6, 2007, 10:55 AM

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Re: [shawanda_78] Beginning As A New Writer [In reply to] Can't Post

Some people get MFA's to make contacts, and I suppose that works for them. Others, including myself, get MFA's to become better writers. It worked for me. But it is by no means necessary for success as a writer. The only requirement is the ability to write a good manuscript and get it in front of the right people.

For a first novel, the best time to start looking for agents is when you've finished the revisions. Not the first draft, the revisions. You want to put your best face before the world.

It is, I suppose, possible to get a book of poetry published without having published any of the poems in it, but I don't know anyone who's done it.

Plenty of first novels are published by major presses. But don't worry about that until the book is done.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


JoanneMerriam
Joanne Merriam


Aug 6, 2007, 6:23 PM

Post #4 of 4 (1404 views)
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Re: [shawanda_78] Beginning As A New Writer [In reply to] Can't Post

Is an MFA a requirement for success, or can a writer be successful without one?

Not required. I do not have an MFA, so I can't speak to that experience, but my understanding is that the advantages of having an MFA are: networking opportunities, improving your writing (in a much more focused way than most of us can accomplish on our own), and time to write. The disadvantages are primarily financial and logistical, and many people simply are never in a position to do it, and still become successful. Some people believe that they also breed a horrible kind of factory-farmed, write-by-committee blandness, and I think that's something to keep in mind if you're the kind of people pleaser who can't ignore bad advice, but otherwise is not an issue.

If you decide against an MFA, it can be helpful to do a modified version of it at your own pace and within your own resources. A wide knowledge of literature is always a plus to a writer, so seek out writing outside your favorite genre/area and outside your country, time period, culture and/or language (in translation if necessary). Reading lists abound, so you should have no trouble getting recommendations. Also read extensively in the area in which you plan to write, of course, but it sounds like you already do this.


When is the best time to start looking for literary agents to submit to, during the writing of the novel, or once it's completed?

Once it's complete. They won't look at an unfinished first novel, and the market changes so quickly that planning ahead is somewhat counter-productive. It won't hurt to note the names of the agents of your favorite authors, though.


For a poet who has a large collection, is it better to submit singly to contests and magazines, or to select a book length number of poems and submit to publishers that way?

You can do both at the same time.

However, outside of contests (usually for chapbook-length rather than full-length books), it's very rare for publishers to pick up a book of poetry from an unpublished writer. The usual thing is to be published in a bunch of journals first.


Is is a requirement for first time novelists to publish with a smaller press, or are there people who have been able to publish with a larger press his/her first time out?

Lots of writers start with small press. Lots of writers start with big publishers. I can easily rattle off twenty names of people I know personally who have done either one.


Editor: 7x20 * Upper Rubber Boot Books
Most recently: Apocalypse Now: Poems and Prose from the End of Days (Atwood, Bacigalupi, JCO, etc.)

Writer: joannemerriam.com * The Glaze from Breaking (poetry)

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