One of the first things I did when I got fairly interested in writing at 38 or so, I read all the books on writing I could find. I read TELLING LIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT (which I liked) and ON WRITING (which i thought was a stupid book that did nothing for me) and a whole lot more. I went to seminars, subscribed to WRITER’S DIGEST (which was a moderately helpful). I even went out and bought the bible of writing, the name of which I cannot remember but it was full of nothing but sources that would buy, or at least publish, my writing. Most librarys have all these books for loan or at least reading in the quiet sanctity of a library.
So, what did all that reading do or me? It told me that writing was fickled. What works for one writer, will probably not work for the next. How one person broke into the business, rarely worked for me. No one writes of writing and selling that hasn’t found their own path to the one agent that loved their stuff enough to fight for it with the publishers.
At the point I started looking for a publisher, KDP and createspace and all those other print on demand orgs that are available today just were not around. Everything I had read was allowing and encouraging me to send direct to the publishers and get an agent after you have an interested publisher.
I finished my first book after selling two articals to a magazine I liked to read. The first of which I wrote in thirty minutes ,while sitting on a clift with my feet hanging over the edge, with a pencil and flip pad left over from college. Within three weeks I sold it to my favorite magazine, got the check, and a copy of the magazine with my story in it. I WAS A WRITER.
The second piece I sold and never saw published but I got paid $50 for it.
The first book length story, BLOOD ON THE ZUNI, was a western with a young man starting a ranch, a blue eyed redhead and her brother, and some bad guys. ZUNI was a masterpiece of standard western pocket novels. I went to the WRITER’S BIBLE, (that’s what it was called, I think) and started sending off quaries to publishers. I started with Bantom because they published all of Louis L’Amour’s books. REJECTION – DOES NOT MEET OUR NEEDS AT THIS TIME. PLEASE TRY AGAIN.
I was in hog heaven, Bantom like my book so much they wanted me to try again.
I sent the book out 47 times to different publishers. One asked for the entire manuscript. I sent it. $8 postage in 1983. It was returned with this note. I DON’T DO WESTERNS. BUT, I LIKE THIS ONE. PLEASE KEEP TRYING WITH PUBLISHING HOUSES THAT DO WESTERNS, LIKE BANTOM.
47 rejections and I was almost done with my second book.
In that year of rejections, I wrote and sold a dozen articles, a published a short story, and a banner story for ARIZONA magazine. I wrote a couple dozen crossword puzzles (all rejected), some greating cards (all rejected), and sold a short article that sold on the ROMANCE OF CANDLELIGHT. I slowed my pace to an almost dead halt due to going back to work teaching in a middle school and driving the school bus on the longest route in the state, 70 miles one way. Somehow writing just didn’t matter to me, but encouraging students to use their gifts in mighty ways was more exciting than selling my writing or even writing. I wrote a couple dozen poems in six years.
Somehow the bug of writing got back in my fingers when I retired for the fourth time and was sitting at home doing nothing but looking at my beautiful wife who was still working. I was 67. By that time we had sold the cows, the horse had died, I had a hip replace, and all the kids were off on their own. I was bored. I went back to writing, fast and furious.
SELF PUBLISHING FOR A RESONABLE PRICE HAD COME INTO THE WORLD!