This is a guest post by Jane Still, author.
I have never won the lottery. Perhaps that’s because I have never played; well ok, I dabbled but it was a total waste of time and money. However, I have won the publishing lottery and I’m not talking Publisher’s Clearing House.
I am proof that you can beat the odds of the publishing game. A few years ago, I decided to write my first book. I had never written anything before””except for excruciatingly bad poetry.
Jealousy is what spurred me into writing a book. When I discovered my friend Charlotte had published a couple of stories in different magazines, I decided I could be published too. I started my own writers group and proceeded to write some ghastly stories.
I had no idea what I would eventually write, I just wrote what was inside me and with lots of practice, kind words of encouragement, and critiquing from my writers group and a couple of years of going to the amazing LDS StoryMakers writing conference, I wrote my first book, Mother’s Daze.
After I wrote my book, I sat on it for over a year wondering if I should find an agent or send it to a publisher. Finally, I woke up to the fact that if I did nothing, I would get nothing and some action was better than leaving my manuscript buried under a pile of dust on the shelf.
LDS StoryMakers had a publishers panel each year with representatives from the major Church Publishing Houses who answered my questions about publication. I decided Cedar Fort was where I should submit my work.
Most publishers do not want to take illustrations with your submissions but I took a chance and sent my book with the illustrations my friend had drawn. Cedar Fort was the first and only place I submitted.
Within a month, they contacted me and said they wanted to take my book with illustrations to the national market. I learned several important lessons in the process.
1. You can learn how to write. You don’t need to have a natural talent.
2. You must practice.
3. Surround yourself with people who believe in you.
4. Believe in yourself.
5. Go to conferences and meet other people in the business.
6. You will never publish what you don’t submit.
7. It feels wonderful to have someone accept your work.
8. Don’t worry about what you will eventually write, just write.
9. Join or start a writers group. It gives you a reason to write.
10. Sometimes you just get lucky and win the lottery.