- Get some good beta readers. These are folks who aren’t necessarily editors/writers themselves, but enjoy reading. They should be able to read your project and tell you that doesn’t work, that sounds farfetched, that character is really awful, you need to go back to your day job. It is always good to have two or three readers. More than that muddies the waters. Generally, it is better to have people you don’t know well read for you. Friends and family will want to spare your feelings, and it’s always harder to take criticism from people we care about.
- Get your novel written first. Don’t worry about grammar, about punctuation, about flow and voice and tense. Write. Then, when it’s written, you can go back and do the grunt work.
- Before you submit your work, get someone to proofread it. Pay for it if you have to. If there are spelling/grammar mistakes in the first few pages, it will get rejected.
- Trade secret: If you get any feedback from the publisher about why they didn’t accept it, thank them for it, and ask if they will consider looking at a revision of it. If they say yes, and you submit another version with the publisher’s comments taken into consideration, you are far more likely to get a contract out of it because they know that you are serious about your work and willing to take feedback and work with it.
- Focus short stories on the themes given. If the anthology is about pirates (there’s a call out for those now), then don’t send in a romantic ghost story (unless it involves pirates).
- Remember that JK Rowling had twelve publishing houses reject Harry Potter. She’s now worth over 1 billion dollars and has sold 375 million copies. William Wordsworth received over 200 rejection letters—he wallpapered his bedroom walls in them.
- Writing is a craft as much as a passion. If you want a career in it, you have to work at it. You have to continually learn, continually pursue and continually imagine. Take writing classes, go to writers retreats, write on the tram, write on the bus, write while you are in the line at the bank. You never know what will turn into a longer work.