I originally wrote this article several years ago. Luther has been gone for eight years now. When I went through some of my old files, I came across this, and thought it was kind of nice. I hope you enjoy it too.
My dog Luther showed me how to get published. Okay, I confess. I’m already published and was really just looking for a way to adore my dog and count it as writing time. Even so. I think he had some great ideas!
- It’s okay to be a mutt. Just as Luther doesn’t have to have a pedigree for people to say he’s a great dog, you don’t have to have a doctorate in science to write a science book for kids. You don’t have to have an English degree to write a novel. Be yourself. Draw on your strengths, your curiosities. If you wait until you’ve earned all the “right” degrees, you may never start writing.
- Follow those who feed you. If I have lunch in my hands, Luther sits next to me but doesn’t beg; he waits patiently. As a writer, you have a choice of who you approach to publish your manuscript. I prefer to send my writing to paying publishers, though occasionally I donate articles. Paying publishers help me feed my family. After I send my manuscript, I wait patiently for them to respond. Sometimes I get a rejection, but other times I’m amazed by how great the response is. It’s like throwing a steak to Luther. Don’t think that because you are a beginner or have been rejected before, you aren’t worthy of submitting to paying markets. Submit, then sit. Stay. Good dog.
- Always be ready to run. Luther told me that other less-obedient dogs will dart out the door at every opportunity then race away from their angry owners. Luther only does that when he sees a rabbit or squirrel and thinks he can catch them. Writers should always be looking for their opportunities to be published. Pick up magazines in the dentist office for market research. Join message boards online that relate to writing and to your specialty. If you write (or would like to write) Christian parenting articles and books, join groups for writers, Christians, parents, Christian parents, single parents, moms, dads, etc.—whatever you can relate to your genre. Then, become more than a chatty member. Become a resource for others and learn from them. Ideas for articles and opportunities to become published will pop up all over the place, if you are ready.
- Leave your mark. When I take Luther on a walk, I’m amazed he doesn’t become dehydrated with all the marking he does. Anything vertical gets wet. Please don’t pee on your publishers. That’s not what I’m talking about! Don’t be afraid to leave your mark by promoting yourself. Put your website address in your signature line for every e-mail you send. Keep business cards with you at all times. Have a writer’s resume and clips updated at all times (and keep a copy or two in your car—you never know who you’ll run into when you visit the library or pay for an ad.) Remember to let people know what you do. If you don’t tell them, how will they ever know?
My husband may think Luther is only good for matting the carpet with dog hair, but I think he’s a great interview. Certainly, there are many more tips for getting published, but if you follow my dog’s sage advice, you will find opportunities almost everywhere you go. And, you will be ready!