Thursday, April 14, 2011

M is for ... Mistakes

Mistakes. We've all made them. Some people are better at admitting it than others though. Personally, I have no problem telling people I've made a mistake. After all, many times it's the only way to learn the right way to do something.

On my journey toward publication, I've made screes of mistakes. I started off completely ignorant as to the process. When I finished my first novel, I looked up the address of the publisher that published my favorite books, and mailed off the manuscript. No surprise I got it back a few weeks later with the note 'we do not accept unsolicited manuscripts'. Actually, getting the package back was kind of a surprise. I mean, posting something that big is expensive!

By the time I finished my next book, I knew a little more (only a very little, mind) and rather than blindly sending to a publisher, I entered it into a contest. Not surprisingly, I didn't win. The book hadn't been critiqued or edited much, and really wasn't ready to go out, something I didn't learn until I discovered WDC ( and joined a critique group.

I had no idea about agents and what they did, and the first query letters I sent out were atrocious. I made every mistake in the book - not addressing them by name, not telling them what the book is about, focusing on all the wrong things in my bio - and no surprise, no one bit.

When submitting short fiction, I've made my share of mistakes too. I've submitted the same story to two venues when one of them doesn't accept simultaneous submissions. I've submitted stories to publications that are so wrong for them it's not funny. Reading the publication before you submit to them is always a good idea. Sometimes the submission guidelines are a little vague as to what they are looking for.

But for all the mistakes I've made, I've learned a lot. I feel that I have gained the knowledge I need, and keep gathering more, each and every day.

What are some mistakes you've made? And what did you learn from them?


  1. Oh, mistakes...I could go on and on. When I went to query my first time around, I queried a first draft manuscript. I told myself I'd polish it before anyone asked for it.

    I have been, but not for the reasons I thought. I wrote a horrific synopsis and query to send out. I think it said something in it like "this is not Christian fiction, but rather an exploration of perception" and that was the most words I had focused on the story.

    Fortunately, I don't think anyone does it perfect the first time ^_^

  2. Oh, man! There is sure a steep learning curve, isn't there. There are so many mistakes early in the process. Initially I had a couple nice people point things out for me, but I think this blogosphere finally has me at least with a CLUE...

  3. Wow, you've learned a lot. Great story. This is all essential advice. Sometimes you gotta go through the ringer before you can truly understand the intricacies of the process. And I applaud you for being so forthright in your piece.

    Nice blog!

  4. totally totally reminds me of when I first started out! the learning curve is tremendous those first few months. but we do learn!

  5. Another crazy A-Z Challenge Fool! Hi!

    Blog Book Tours

  6. I look at mistakes as stepping stones to success. Without them, we don't know the next direction. Great post.

    Hello, fellow A-Z Challenger! Here's my latest entry. Come visit either of my blogs when you can and leave some comment love:

    M is for Mindmapping/Full View Outline (A-Z)
    Twitter: @SolarChief