As a writer one of the hardest things to do, I think, is put yourself out there. Lots of writers are quite unassuming types who enjoy
spending time at their computer or keyboard creating imaginary world's full of wonder, torment and delight. Of course that's not an easy task but it is a far easier one than taking that finished work and sending it out into the universe.
Once a book is written it needs to be read by others initially this is simply for quality control. In your own writing you can't see the wood for the trees. You need objective eyes to tell you that you accidentally changed a minor characters name half way thought, that you used a certain word way too many times or that there is an enormous plot hole in your book. This process can happen more than once and usually happens several times before you are happy with a book.
Next up you need the work to be word perfect. Again despite your best efforts you really do need someone objective and with "fresh eyes" to read through your work for you. Of course publishing houses have editors that help with this but nobody wants to send in shoddy work, even established authors are laborious about these steps.
For an unpublished author the next step is sending your work out to an agent or a publisher. This is a very scary step or most people who hit "send" on the email or journey to the post office with their heart in their mouth. Then all one can do is wait.
Other ways people can try and get their work out is through entering writing competitions. This is a great way to get feedback on your work, of course not all feedback will be positive so you have to be ready to take the constructive criticism given and consider its merits. I have entered several competitions and been a judge on a couple. I found both experience really helpful for my writing.
If you do well enough many times you will be read by someone with influence. Competition judges in the final stages are often publishers or agents. This can be a great way to get your work in front of the right people.
What got me thinking about this today, however, was conference pitching. That is where you sit down one on one with an agent of publisher and pitch your book to them. This is a rare event and usually takes place at a conference. Today the Romance Writers of Australia has opened their pitch requests for their 2012 Conference. There are an impressive list of agents and publishers there from both Australia and overseas so it’s important to make the most of an opportunity like this. (They are a great organisation and you can learn more about them here http://www.romanceaustralia.com/index.html)
I have pitched at conferences twice now and while it is a scary process it is also very worthwhile.
I’ll write more about the process in the coming weeks and ask other writers to submit their tips and thoughts on the process.
Meanwhile this event - So You Think You Can write - is taking place at this week’s Sydney Writers' Festival for anyone interested in public pitching which is definitely putting yourself out there.