On Your Father's Side  

Recipe for getting published

I don’t have one of those “stories” about getting published for the first time.

I didn’t slave away at the keyboard until my eyes turned bloodshot and my head collapsed onto the corner of my desk.

Nope. I saw a “help wanted” ad.

It was a chance encounter in early 2012. I was looking for work, and my now publisher had posted an open call for manuscripts.

Lormier Kids and Teens wanted four, full chapters, an outline, a table of contents with descriptions of each subsequent chapter, and a short biography of the author.

They wanted books for their Sports Stories series, and I couldn’t believe my good fortune.

It was fortune, I know that, because the job board was for work in Eastern Canada (mostly) and it would’ve taken a forklift to get my wife out of Kelowna then (now, you’d need a bulldozer… or a well-appointed limo).

It was also for jobs that focused on sports. Really, there wasn’t much chance of me stumbling upon something in Kelowna through that website.

Well, I suppose that’s not entirely accurate since I did find something incredibly useful.

Chapter 2 of my “story” about publishing is slightly more interesting in that I did nothing about it for a year.

Yes, for the better part of 12 months that opportunity went unanswered.

I wrote the outline, the table of contents, my biography, and two of the four sample chapters. Then, I did nothing.

I know, right?

Thankfully, my brain is much smarter than I am and it wouldn’t let me forget about it.

The Good Ole Brain finally threatened to cut off the part of my body that made it possible to watch nine hours of NFL on Sundays.

That was enough to get me moving again.

The good fortune continued when, after I contacted the publisher, they were still interested in reading my manuscript (that’s publishing talk for “book.”).

After nearly 20 years as a journalist, I expected writing my first book for teens would be a breeze.

I was wrong.

Writing fiction seemed like trying to learn a new language. It was only through the good graces of my editors -- Christie Harkin and Lorimer and my colleague here in Kelowna, Ross Freake.

I hired (bribed?) Ross because it because painfully obvious right away that I desperately needed help.

Some days they were like medics on either side of me, helping me off the battlefield.

A year after that, I produced my first hi-lo book for reluctant readers, Ice Time.

Therein lies the advice I can give anyone striving to get their own fiction published.

First, read everything you can.

I’ve often told young journalism students (or hopeful students) the same thing: everything you need to know about writing is easy to find. You just need to open a book and read it.

Second, finish the damn thing.

It was another colleague, David Wylie, who provided me with that anecdote. 

He attributes it to Stephen King, but most good writers would agree: you don’t get paid to write, you get paid to finish.

That’s why I feel as lucky as I do. I didn’t have a completed book to sell.

That it ever reached print is still amazing to me. That I’ve written two more is even more astounding.

I will never be so naive again.

Third, and finally, write from the heart.

This is a better way to phrase “write what you know.”

It’d be a mistake to shoot for what’s popular now.

The publishing process takes at least a year, and usually much longer, so by the time you’ve written your vampire romance, the world will have moved on to zombie comedies.

As a bonus piece of advice, you should know most writers and editors love to talk about writing and editing.

If you have questions about the craft, please don’t hesitate to email me.

Even if it’s a year from now.


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About the Author

David Trifunov is a proud father, humble author and recovering journalist.

Trifunov and his wife, Erin, are raising three little girls in Kelowna and enjoying every second of the trials, triumphs and tribulations.

As a humble author, he has written three middle-grade books for publisher Formac-Lorimer.

To pay the bills so he can raise those kids and write those books, Trifunov is a journalist with 20 years of experience as a reporter and editor.

His parenting column will appear regularly. davidtrifunov.ca

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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