No Publisher Should Ever Be Overlooked

When you’re an aspiring writer, any offer to publish your writing should be accepted graciously!

Now, I don’t necessarily mean vanity presses, but that’s a post for another day. Any competitive press or literary magazine that would like to publish the manuscript of your book, your poetry, or your short fiction should (in most cases) be accepted wholeheartedly.

There are certain places that everyone would like to publish with. Of course you’d probably like to publish with The New Yorker, Granta, Glimmer Train, Tin House, PANK, Word Riot, or any of the Big 5 publishers – so would every other writer; that doesn’t mean that the obscure journal with a subscription list of 1000 should be overlooked.

The fact is that any competitive press is just that – competitive. They screen out lots of writers’ work. If any publisher or press likes what you’ve sent them, that’s a huge victory. It’s not a slight to get published somewhere that isn’t widely known, even amongst literary crowds. Keep in mind that the big publishers pay attention and are always scouting for new talent. If nothing else, you are building quite a portfolio.

The reality is that it’s just not common for most writers to start at the top of the heap, unless they have a wide platform from being notable for some feat other than writing. If you have the chops to get published, no matter where, that’s a huge victory. Embrace it. The journals and presses that you may be seeking to publish with quite possibly may take note, and soon you will be on your way!

-Alfonso

If you need any assistance with finding places to publish your writing – or if you require a diligent editor, simply email me. I’d love to help your literary dreams come true.

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Five Things Aspiring Writers May Think Are True, But Aren’t

It’s a huge high when you first decide to take the plunge and devote yourself to writing…but like all highs, eventually you will come down. Sadly, it’s quite common for aspiring writers to fall into deep depressions, and begin believing things that simply aren’t true. This post seeks to dispel five of these erroneous beliefs that you may have:

1. I will never improve as a writer.

Have you heard of a man by the name of Malcolm Gladwell? How about a little obscure band from the U.K. called The Beatles? Skillful writing, like any other talent, takes time to develop. Gladwell posits that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. The Beatles were just another local band before they went on tour in Germany, playing night after night for an extensive period of time. By the end of that insanely demanding stint in Germany, they had transformed from a silly local band to quite possibly the greatest band of all time.

Look, we all start from humble origins. If you have a natural gift for writing, and you most probably do if you’re reading this blog and writing already, then just have the patience to develop your skill. Your work will improve. If possible, take classes in Creative Writing, go to local workshops, or have an editor (like me) take a look at your work and help improve it. In time, you will become a better writer if you stick with it.

2. I will never get recognized.

OK, let’s face facts, Zadie Smith, Jonathan Lethem, Junot Diaz, Michael Chabon – these authors probably wouldn’t be recognized as easily in public as LeBron James, Brad Pitt, Barack Obama, or Donald Trump. Even Stephen King wouldn’t be as easily recognizable as any of the aforementioned four. Unfortunately, many people in our modern society don’t read – however, those who do so are often quite voracious about it. People do buy books. People do read literary journals. People do appreciate amazing authors. Successful authors get speaking engagements, generous contracts from major publishers, and major press attention. This can happen to you. 

But it goes back to the 10,000 hours thing. Develop your skill, and then learn how to market your writing. (As a publishing consultant, I can help…)

3. I will grow to hate writing.

Will you? Really? If writing is your passion, or at least one of your passions, and you’re devoting time to it, how can you develop a hatred for it? If anything, as you improve, as you get recognized more and more, and as you begin receiving compensation for it, you’ll grow to love writing even more.

If you hate writing now, ask yourself if it’s really something you enjoy doing, or are you doing it against your will. If you hate writing, ask yourself if you hate the lack of recognition, financial compensation, or how your work stands up to your favorite authors. If any of those three are what’s causing you to hate writing now, then put in more hours and watch how in time your hatred will dissipate and transform to an unquenchable love.

4. Writing is something that cannot be lucrative.

OK, in fairness, if you want to be a millionaire, writing is probably not the profession for you. However, if you develop your abilities as a writer, you can get by, and even live well purely from your own creative output. Also, recognition as a writer grants you a huge in to communications jobs and if recognized enough, work as an adjunct professor (or more with the appropriate degree).

A few months back, I met a gentleman who runs an open mic for poets and other talent in New York City. His name is Mike Geffner and he is the founder of The Inspired Word – New York City’s best open mic. As a young man, he sought to make a living through writing, and he’s never had to work in any other field to get by. You can too.

5. My writing isn’t good because it’s not like the stuff I read in high school/college.

Stop! High schools and colleges primarily teach literary fiction and classical fiction. There is quality writing in these genres, undoubtedly, but there are talented writers who write for audiences other than academics and other erudite individuals. Few academics would dismiss the work of Arthur C. Clarke. No one can argue with the sales prowess of J. K. Rowling. You don’t have to write literary fiction to be a writer. If you want to write well, you need to write what you want to write, not what you imagine others expect you to write.

I hope this post was informative. If you find this helpful, please share this with your friends on social media. Also, if you or anyone you know might need an editor, copy editor, or publishing consultant, I’d be honored to assist. Simply email me if you’d like to get in touch.

Six Ways to Write Creatively

If you’re an aspiring writer, you may find yourself drawn to one specific type of creative writing. This post intends to be a quick guide to different types of writing. Feel free to play around, and see what may happen if you try a different direction.

Poetry

If you have a background as a musician, write lyrics, or in rapping, you may want to try poetry. Contrary to what you may have heard, it doesn’t have to rhyme, in fact, rhyming poetry is pretty much passe. If you can make your writing have a musicality to it, give poetry a try!

Short Fiction

Have you tried to write a novel and got stuck somewhere along the line? Are you a part of the ADHD generation? Try short fiction! Just keep in mind that short fiction requires a different approach from a novel. In short fiction, you aren’t telling a whole narrative, but merely presenting a snapshot. If brevity is a strong point, give short fiction a try!

Novels

Do you have patience? If your answer isn’t an unequivocal yes, beware of the novel. The novel is often seen as the only “real” type of writing by many aspiring writers, but that’s simply not true; all creative writing has merit. While practically all writers love reading novels, please note that this is an ambitious goal. If you have the patience, desire and the organizational skills to tackle a novel, then go for it!

Creative Nonfiction

Is your life so interesting that you don’t need to even make things up? Why not try writing creative nonfiction? In creative nonfiction, you take the same approach as you would to a novel or short fiction, but the difference is you draw from your own real experiences. Remember this though, just because it happened, doesn’t mean it’s interesting. Make sure to write in the same way you would approaching something fictional!

Screenplays

Be honest, do you prefer watching a good movie to reading a good book? If so, you might want to try writing a screenplay. Remember that writing a screenplay is different from a novel or short fiction, as you are writing with a focus on the visuals. If you’re less a “pure” writer and more of an all-around creative, you may want to give writing a screenplay a try!

Plays

Do you have a flare for the dramatic? Are you an actor? Do you find writing dialogue to be remarkably easy, but description and introspection to be harder to execute? Try writing a play! Just remember to keep focused on the fact that this will take place on a stage, and write accordingly.

I hope this post has helped you. If you already have started on a literary project, and need copy editing, intensive editing, or publishing assistance, simply email me. I’d love to help you reach your literary potential!

5 Suggestions When Collaborating With Another Writer

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We all know that writing can be a pretty solitary act, but sometimes it’s fun to switch things up a bit and write in collaboration. Seriously, it can be fun; and it worked for Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs.

I tried writing collaboratively only once before, with an ex-girlfriend who is a formidable writer in her own regard (click here to see a sample of her work) – it didn’t work out so well. We were working on a piece of alternative literature, with her writing from the female perspective, and me writing from the male perspective. It fizzled out after a mere two chapters each.

If you want to collaborate with another writer, here are five suggestions to make the process go smoothly:

1. Plan an outline. Make sure that you and your writing partner both know where the story is going.

2. Be professional. Whether the person you’re writing with is a spouse, lover, or best friend, as far as your work together goes, make sure that you both hold yourselves to a professional standard.

3. Personal chemistry. If you don’t like a fellow writer (and writers hate being around other writers as a general rule) don’t work with them.

4. Literary chemistry. If you write like Kerouac, and your partner writes like Woolf, make sure that you two can come to an interesting juxtaposition, or don’t start at all.

5. Don’t be too critical. It takes time to turn 1st drafts into quality writing. Don’t be too critical on your partner. Don’t bite their head off if they miss a deadline. People produce their best work when they don’t get the whip cracked on them.

I hope these suggestions prove to be helpful to you in your writing career!

Also, if you need any help with copy editing, intensive editing, or publishing consultancy, I’d be honored to help an aspiring writer move their literary career forward. Simply email me by clicking here.

Influence vs. Copying

Hey friends. I hope you’ll check out my new flash fiction piece, “Riding in Cars with Girls,” published with the amazing new literary magazine Pretty Owl Poetry. Below is an excerpt:

“She talks about deer carcasses and misquotes Janis Joplin lyrics. She expounds on how “Down on Me” is about oral sex. She drives us into towns with names like Barren, Wyoming and Tombstone, New Mexico, winds off into their back roads, places a wet finger on my throat, beckons me to some rock formation where she says she can really feel the vibration, the electric energy…”

If you want to read the full story (and the work of other stellar writers), please click here.

OK, without further ado…

“You know who this reminds me of?” I was at a restaurant with some friends, and I had just shared a poem of mine. “Bukowski.”

Of course I tried to play it cool, but inwardly I cringed just a bit. Yes, Charles Bukowski was one of the finest poets (and novelists) around, and I do admire his simple yet cutting style, and his hard edge, but my friend essentially told me that my writing was derivative.

Naturally, all writers have their influences. Mine are Carson McCullers, Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Carver, and Shirley Jackson. I admire the uncomfortable undertones juxtaposed with their intense realism. Truthfully, I’d love to one day be mentioned among those names as one of the masters of American literature…but I’d hate for someone to say that I was aping any of those writers.

Writers naturally have their influences, and they will rub off on your writing. I’m not a fan of flowery prose, so I doubt anyone will think of Virginia Woolf or Gabriel Garcia Marquez when they read my writing, but in the ordinary situations I place my characters in, and my desire to dig to the underbelly of ordinary life, people can definitely see what tradition I am following in.

The reality is that all writers are products of their influences, and not just their literary influences, but their friends, their families, their culture, their class, their gender, their race, their successes, their failures – and a writer’s work will reflect who a writer is (though of course, you aren’t your characters). While influences are important, and some may claim that your work reminds them of a favorite author, as long as you don’t deliberately set out to write in their style, or copy their themes, try not to take offense to the inevitable comparisons. We are all part of a tradition. Embrace it.

If you’d like assistance with editing, copy editing, or publishing consultancy, please email me.