How To Not Get Published

A lot of bloggers generously share helpful tidbits of information with their readers.  As I always want to be helpful, I was pondering what guidance I could possibly offer, and based on my particular experience and skill set, I can confidently say that I am uniquely qualified to provide advice on several areas at which I excel.  So here are my Mad Skilz, in no particular order.  I rock at:

-memorizing stuff.  I still remember all the lyrics to “Ice, Ice Baby” and that McDonald’s song from the 90s that lists all their menu items.

-rhyming words.  Take heed, y’all.  I’m a lyrical poet.

-swatting flies.  Seriously.  I am a ninja.  I am unstoppable.  You have to see me to believe it.

-imitating and satirizing other works of literature.  Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift are, like, my homies.  We can’t decide whether to call our death-metal garage band the Wicked Wasps or the Shrieking Yahoos.

-stubbornness.  I am legend.  Stubbornness is my best thing.  It’s at the core of my parenting, my writing, and pretty much everything I do.  It’s the reason I was able to breastfeed my first child after his five-month stint as the World’s First Anorexic Baby.  It’s the reason that the same child, the World’s Second Most Stubborn Human Being, is not the supreme ruler of our household.

Given this skill set, I’ve decided that I missed my calling as a tenacious vermin-smiting Anglo-Saxon poet.  So instead I do the next best thing.  I write Young Adult fantasy.  But the second some thane asks me to be his lord’s bard, I’m totally ditching this novel-writing stuff.

Alas, these are not skills I can impart over the interwebs, and I really don’t want to encourage my competition (these mead-hall jobs are so few and far-between), and so I turn in desperation to a final achievement–so far, I have excelled at not getting published.  In hopes of enlightening those of you poor saps who may be struggling as you ponder how to not get published in the current market, overwhelmed as you are by pesky offers from agents and annoyingly lucrative contracts from major publishing houses, I offer my very sagest advice on How To Not Get Published.  The following strategies apply to other creative endeavors as well.  If Not Getting Published isn’t for you, how about Not Getting a Record Deal or Not Booking a Gallery Show?  The possibilities are endless.  And so, without further ado, here’s my best stuff:

1)  Procrastinate.  Yes, this one’s obvious, but worth mentioning.  Why write when you could complain about how you never have time to write?

2)  Revel in self-sabotage.  After all, no critique, no rejection letter, will ever be as harsh as the criticism you give yourself.  So cut out the middle-man and go straight for the jugular–your own.

3)  Facebook.  Twitter.  Tumblr.  All the time.  Post constant status updates.  Tweet nonstop.  Show us highly original pictures of your kid covered in spaghetti and your cat doing unbelievably brilliant things like napping in sunspots.  Because thinking in complex sentences hurts.

4)  Stalk the webpages of famous authors.  Dwell on the fact that in addition to being on the New York Times Bestseller List, they’re all gourmet cooks who drive race cars, play seventeen instruments, rock-climb without ropes in the Himalayas, and cure cancer recreationally.  Oh, and they’re all stay-at-home moms.  Even the guys.  Realize that you will be lucky to keep your children from killing each other, let alone cook dinner without burning it or own a car that does not break down if you look at it the wrong way.

5)  Plan your Sacred Writing Time for that part of the day when you feel most exhausted and defeated.  If you’re having trouble with this because you’re just so darn perky all the time, try keeping a log of phone calls received for a week, and schedule your writing time for that segment of the day when you’re guaranteed to have maximum interruptions from telemarketers.

6)  When people ask you what you do, mumble, “I’m a writer” and then look really embarrassed that you had the audacity to lump yourself in the same group as the rockstars who actually make a living doing this stuff.

7)  Periodically burst into tears of frustration.  Remember exactly what set you off so that you can cultivate that emotional response.  It makes for a nifty party trick.  (Try combining this one with #5, and burst into tears while you’re on the phone with the telemarketer.  Tell him/her about your frustrated dreams of literary greatness and how you’ve wasted your life.)

8)  Scour the internet for websites about publishing, submissions, and agents.  Read every last scrap of information you can find.  Read until your brain feels like it’s about to fall out your ear.  Be really obsessive about this.  Forget revising that novel, poem, or short story–you need to know how many spaces go between the publisher’s address and your salutation in the query letter.

9)  Refuse to sit down to write until all household chores are completed and the place is sparkling.  Get a dog or cat who experiences constant digestive distress in order to ensure that you’ll always have something to sanitize.

10)  Repeat all the steps above, complaining loudly that you never have time to write.

If you slavishly follow the above advice, I guarantee you’ll be unpublished in no time.

4 thoughts on “How To Not Get Published

  1. Thanks for the sage advice! I’m off to work on how to not realize my dreams right now…

    But I am confident that your stubbornness + mad skilz + gift of weaving words = a publishing contract in your near future. Keep writing, dear one. We need to hear the stories you have to tell.

  2. Damn Brenna! You are hilarious! I actually do have some high up contacts in publishing but they’re music, news paper, & magazine related. I’ll ask around. You never know, friend, of a friend, of a friend. You should send me a novel or 2! I love to read. You can e-mail me personally at

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