I knew nothing about the business when I first started writing so I had to educate myself. Because of the internet, there are now even more resources available.
If you're interested in writing romance, I would definitely advise joining Romance Writers of America. You can find their website at www.rwanational.org . (There's a link on my Favorite Links page.) I'd also advise you to hie yourself to a bookstore or internet site and pick up, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Your Romance Published" by Julie Beard. I was so impressed with this book that I wrote a Foreword for it. (I don't get any royalties unfortunately, but Julie did send me some nice chocolates <g>.) I would have killed to have a detailed, but concise, resource like this book when I was just starting out.
I also strongly recommend that you pay a visit to Avon author Jenna Petersen's wonderful site THE PASSIONATE PEN at www.passionatepen.com. Jenna provides some great tips plus comprehensive lists of romance publishers and agents.
For any type of writing I recommend:
1) Subscribing to WRITER'S DIGEST magazine
2) Joining the WRITER'S DIGEST book club (You can find details in the magazine. This will lead to all sorts of books about writing and publishing.)
3) Check out the "writing" sections of your local library and bookstore. Some of the references in the libraries may be oudated, but they'll still be helpful
4) Invest in the latest edition of THE NOVEL AND SHORT STORY WRITER'S MARKET. These books are updated every year. They not only list publishers and what type of manuscripts they're seeking, they also have articles with tips about manuscript submission answering all of those burning questions like, "How wide should my margins be?" and "Do I mail my manuscript in a box or an envelope?" WRITER'S DIGEST also publishes yearly editions of the WRITER'S MARKET specifically for agents, poetry, songwriting, children's books, inspirational, etc.
5) Go to the bookstore and surf the shelves. See if you can find anyone who is writing something similar to what you're interested in writing and note who their publisher is. This might be a publisher you'd want to target with your submission.
If anything, there's an embarrassment of information out there right now. The tricky part is sorting through it. I also recommend that you WRITE your book first before worrying about any of this. I wrote LADY OF CONQUEST, THEN I researched how to market it. After I finished the book, I bought the most recent WRITER'S MARKET, then made a list of potential publishers based on what sort of manuscripts they were looking for. I sent out 22 query letters to 22 different publishers at the same time, asking if they'd like to see my book. Some of them wanted to see 3 chapters, some wanted to see 10, some wanted to see the whole book, and some never wanted to see me again. But within three months, I had sold the book to Berkley Publishing.
You'll need three qualities to find a career in publishing-talent, perseverance, and luck. Out of those three, perseverance is probably the most important. I know a lot of talented writers who give up before they ever sell that first book. You have to remember that when I was starting out, I was rejected 21 times. But all I needed to launch my career was that one acceptance.
Keep the faith,
Tips for Aspiring Writers