The following observations come from working with authors who do get published, and authors who do not get published. These have nothing to do with talent, luck, money, or good looks.
1 ~ The simplest How To Not Get Published is to never complete a product you can market for publication. One example of this is Better Idea Syndrome. This is how it works: You latch onto a great idea for a novel and write one hundred pages in a flurry of enthusiasm. Then you think of a better idea for a novel, so you put aside unfinished novel #1 and write one hundred pages of your better idea. Then you get an even better idea for a novel, so you set unfinished novel #2 on top of unfinished novel #1, and write one hundred pages of your even better idea. Every time you get a new—and, of course, better—idea, put aside your work in progress. Doing this insures you will never complete a novel, hence you’ll never have a completed novel to submit to a publisher.
2 ~ If you are not plagued by the Better Idea Demon from #1, another way to Not Get Published is to spend all of your writing hours blogging about your journey to publication, or some other subject that is not writing your novel. A close cousin to this is to spend all of your available writing time building your author platform via Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Google+, and so on, which is also not writing your novel. You may write about your novel in progress, and about yourself as an aspiring novelist, but you don’t actually write the actual novel.
3 ~ Next, eschew the value of good grammar and technical skills. No one is a perfect typist. A passive construction never killed anybody. Running Spell Check is so tedious. And seriously, does anyone really and truly get deeply bothered by a few terribly necessary adverbs? In fact, ignore craft altogether. You’ve been writing since you were five years old and you read all the time. It’s the story that matters, right? So write away but don’t let typos, misspelled words, pronoun confusion, or sentence structure slow you down. When your manuscript is returned with comments about clean copy, be sure to respond with, “That’s the editor’s job.”
4 ~ Another handy way to Not Get Published is to embrace the following mantra: “It’s just fiction.” This is a professional disclaimer that allows you to make mistakes. A great way to do this one is to write a crime novel but ignore laws, legal procedures, and how real police conduct real police work. Readers just want the bad guys to get caught. Coincidences, mind-reading, superpowers, implausibilities, characters acting out of character, and violating the civil rights of anyone who gets in the way of the cop character–and your plot–are fine in “it’s just fiction” land. If a beta reader or editor mentions mistakes or suggests fact checking, they’re obviously too uptight. You serve up justice. You’re just not that picky about the ingredients.
5 ~ The final way How To Not Get Published is to never submit. Submitting to the wrong market also works, but never letting your manuscript see the light of day is a 100% surefire way to remain unpublished. Save your manuscript to a flash drive and hang it around your neck. Let it live there, and you have the least risky, emotionally secure, ego-saving way How to Not Get Published.
Now, if you are one of those driven people who insists on completing a manuscript, polishing it and having it critiqued, sending it out to agents or editors, and putting blogging and promoting secondary to finishing your work in progress, then you have greatly harmed your chances to Not Get Published. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
If you are really stubborn about it, you might even go here and take the Sacred Writing Time pledge.
Tomorrow’s topic: Sunday is a day of rest. See you Monday for How To Stay in POV.