Local author offers advice on how to get published

By Wendy Pierman Mitzel - ReminderNews
Suffield - posted Wed., Jan. 15, 2014
Dawn Metcalf signs a cop of ‘Indelible’ for Suffield Middle School student Vanessa Curti. Photos by Wendy Pierman Mitzel.
Dawn Metcalf signs a cop of ‘Indelible’ for Suffield Middle School student Vanessa Curti. Photos by Wendy Pierman Mitzel.

Local author Dawn Metcalf spilled secrets of the writing world on Jan. 11 at Kent Memorial Library during her workshop, “How to Get Published.”

Most authors do not choose their own cover art, or even their own title, she told a group of a dozen aspiring writers who attended. “It’s like a box of chocolates,” she said. “The cover is the package. The inside is the chocolate.”

And while she said it took her more than 10 years from a first commitment to writing to a debut book in 2011, Metcalf hopes sharing her knowledge of the traditional print industry can make the path a bit less bumpy for others.

“It’s like jumping through hoops of flames and fire and ice,” she said. “And I want to help you navigate.”

Suffield resident Metcalf is the author of young adult books “Luminous” and “Indelible” (book one of “The Twixt”). Her newest book, “Invisible” (book two of “The Twixt”), will be released in April.

For nearly two hours, Metcalf addressed issues such as contracts advances and royalties, how to avoid getting scammed in publishing, and the process for taking a story from words on a page to a book you can hold in your hands.

“I feel inspired to keep going with my rough drafts and manuscripts that I have now in folders,” said Suffield resident Jamie Deenihan after the workshop. “I felt I could relate to Dawn. She gave us a realistic picture of what it would be like to publish."

Metcalf suggested joining a writer’s group like the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators to help “keep your sanity.” It also gets writers access to conferences and agents within those groups.

“You get to meet people who are just like you,” Metcalf said. “Otherwise, you can feel so alone.”

It’s equally important to find a group of writers and editors unafraid to seriously review a work in progress. “Your family and friends will tell you that it’s good because it’s their job,” she said. “A critique partner will kill it because it’s their job.”

Metcalf suggested verlakay.com as a good online resource for writer forums.

Workshop attendees learned how to research agents and editors, send out manuscripts, and most importantly, how to be patient. Responses from agents can take anywhere from six weeks to eight months.

‘It’s slow and it’s ponderous,” Metcalf said. “Send it out and write something else.”

Suffield Middle School student Vanessa Curti purchased a signed copy of “Indelible” after the workshop. She hopes to pursue writing as a career. “I learned this looks a lot harder than I thought,” Curti said. “But it’s worth it.”

Metcalf will follow this workshop with two others: Saturday, Feb. 1, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. - a Book Signing and Author’s Discussion and Writing A Hook and Query Letters on March 1, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. These programs are sponsored by the Friends of Kent Memorial Library.

Metcalf lives in Suffield with her husband and two young children. More information on her novels, as well as writing advice, can be found on her website at www.dawnmetcalf.com.


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