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Writing Credits…Do they Matter?

August 11, 2021-As we continue with our series this month, which is what publishers want, I wanted to share a question that I’ve been asked more than a handful of times.

“Do writing credits matter, and will they help me get published?”  Let’s start from the beginning!

What are writing credits? Writing credits are basically any accomplishments that you’ve had in your writing. For example, if you wrote a short story for a magazine and they published it, newspaper column, blog post, letters to the editor, or you wrote a play/screenplay that made it to the big (or small screen), you’ve been published before traditionally, or you’ve won a writing contest. Writing credits are usually listed by publication (name of the book, article, contest, or movie), date, issue number (where applicable), page number.

Do writing credits matter to publishers? It depends. It’s seen as a major bonus if a submission comes in with a host of writing credits attached because it means that the author is experienced and they’re probably a good enough writer that we don’t have to spend a ton of time and money on editing. It lets us know that there’s someone else in the world interested enough in what the author has to say that they were willing to publish it and that they may already have a fan base of loyal readers who loved their previous work and will probably purchase their next book. Having writing credits does not guarantee that you’ll be published by the House you’ve submitted to; more factors come into play, such as the story’s strength, character development, and the flow and presentation of the writing. People often compare getting a publishing deal to be less likely than getting struck by lightning.

Writing credits are great for marketing yourself and can look pretty impressive to those who receive them stapled to a query. Let’s put it this way, two manuscripts land on my desk, and both are equally good in the same ways. If one of those manuscripts has a query letter attached that shows the author’s writing credits, I’m more likely to read theirs first versus the other. And if I like both of them, then I lean toward the one with the credentials. Think of it like this; you’re essentially applying for a job as an author when you submit your work, so why shouldn’t you be qualified, just like anywhere else you were looking to get hired.

If you want more advice from a publisher, check out my number 1 best-selling book here: Advice from a Publisher (Insider Tips for Getting Your Work Published!): Bakker, Lacey L., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506141: Books – Amazon.ca

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