A writing tip and an opinion about the publishing industry from @moonpie125


King Biscuit

By Michael Loyd Gray

Michael will be awarding a $25.00
Amazon Gift Card to a randomly
drawn commenter during the tour.

Let me offer a writing tip before talking about publishing: write your story or novel the way you feel it. I wish I could claim that’s totally original on my part, but it’s actually the advice Robert Duvall’s character in “Tender Mercies” gives to a struggling country band. “Play it the way you feel it,” he told them, and that applies to writing, too—write it the way you feel it. Write it your way.

Writing isn’t a team sport. There’s no huddle and no quarterback telling you where to line up and where to go after that. You sit down to write and you’re alone. The story comes from you—so tell it the way you see it. Trust your conception of the story, of the characters, and see it through. Trust your instincts to write it. Tell it the way you see it.

As for the publishing industry, I have concerns. Any time art becomes a business we all should be concerned because business cares only for profit and art cares only for being expressed and those two are not natural allies. I guess my main concern is that the publishing industry does not seem much open to new voices in fiction. It tends to recycle the established names. That’s sort of a one size fits all approach to the art of literature.

Do I believe the industry will change? No. So let me take off down another path: I think if you are a serious novelist you should try and get an agent. It seems like a necessity anymore. Gone are the days when Fitzgerald talked up the young Hemingway to his publisher and they signed him. It’s a business now, baby. And finding an agent is worse than dating. A date might linger past dinner, but agents sit down at the table looking for a reason to get up again and leave you behind. And can you blame them? They make money only if your work is capable of making money. So, to get their attention, send them your best work. Make sure it’s spelled correctly and properly formatted.

If you’ve won a writing award, mention it in your query letter or e-mail. An award, however small, is sort of like having a date’s best friend say you might be okay to date a second time. There are books on how to write a query and many agents in their profiles at various sites will tell you what they look for in a book as a well as a query. Get a subscription to a site that has agent information—Publishers Weekly does a good job of that. Once you find out how to reach agents, make your case. Keep writing. Never give up. Perseverance is the key.

AUTHOR Bio and Links

Michael Loyd Gray was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, but grew up in Champaign, Illinois. He earned a MFA in English from Western Michigan University and has taught at colleges and universities in upstate New York, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Texas. He graduated from the University of Illinois with a Journalism degree and was a newspaper staff writer in Arizona and Illinois for ten years, conducting the last interview with novelist Erskine Caldwell.

He is the winner of the 2005 Alligator Juniper Fiction Prize and the 2005 The Writers Place Award for Fiction. Gray’s novel Well Deserved won the 2008 Sol Books Prose Series Prize. His novel Not Famous Anymore was awarded a grant by the Elizabeth George Foundation and was released by Three Towers Press, an imprint of HenschelHaus in 2011. His novel December's Children was a finalist for the 2006 Sol Books Prose Series Prize and was released in 2012 by Tempest Books as the young adult novel King Biscuit. He has written a sequel to Well Deserved called The Last Stop, and another two novels called Blue Sparta and Fast Eddie. Recently he finished a novel entitled The Salt Meadows. A lifelong Chicago Bears and Rolling Stones fan, he lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and teaches as full-time online English faculty for South University, where he is one of the founding editors of the student literary journal Asynchronous and sponsor of an online readings series featuring fiction and poetry.


Amazon Author Page