Back at the beginning of this year when I was finishing the rough draft of the manuscript and feeling very optimistic about finishing my first novel, I sent off an email to best-selling author Brandon Sanderson. For those who don’t frequent the fantasy book section often, Brandon, in addition to writing many of his own fantastic books, has been asked to finish the Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan. Out of all the authors out there I chose him because we are very similar; we’re about the same age, went to the same college, both have young families, both write fantasy, and both live up here in Northern Utah.
To my surprise this week I received a fantastic reply filled with advice and support. I’ll share the best bits with you.
- Brandon wrote more than a dozen novels before Elantris was published and it took over eight years. Don’t give up, if you like writing keep at it. Persistence does pay off in the long run.
- Finding agents is a good route to take; he strongly urges writers to find one. He also suggests contacting editors as well. Editors have relationships with publishing companies and can bring your work to their attention.
- Seeking out a good editor or agent is the most direct way of getting the attention of a publisher. To find one check out “The Writer’s Market,” an international forum created to help writers, agents and publishers connect.
- You can also look to books that are most similar to the one you are writing and research who was involved in creating it. Most of the time the editor will be listed in the publication information – if not, it’s not too hard to get that information from Mr. Internet.
- When seeking representation, having a strong query letter is vital. There are several books and articles available that can help you create one.
- If possible, attend a writers convention – particularly World Con or Fantasy Con. These conventions bring writers, readers, and fans together with publishers, editors, agents, authors and other artists. Great for networking.
- Brandon also does a regular podcast called Writing Excuses that discusses all the ins and outs of creating a scifi/fantasy novel. The site has all the podcasts on file and are a great resource.
Needless to say, I’m elated to have received personal correspondence from one of my writing heros. If you have an author you look up to go ahead and send them an email. They might just write something fabulous back!
Brandon’s blog feeds:
Main blog: http://www.brandonsanderson.com/blog/