It occurs to me that many of you won’t really know what the process of trying to get a book published involves, and therefore have no idea what I’m rambling about when you meet me in the street or find me rocking back and forth in the corner of a dark room. I thank those of you who have born with me thus far. Your patience has not been in vain; I’m about to say something coherent for once.
From what I have gathered, like an information hunting internet squirrel, there are three paths by which a writer can seek publication. The options go a little something like this:
1. Write a book and Self-publish–either hard copy or e-Book. Hard copies cost money from your own pocket!
2. Write a book and send to small publishing houses that accept unsolicited manuscripts.
3. Write a book, find and agent, have agent pimp your book to bigger publishing houses that never accept unsolicited or unrepresented manuscripts.
Now, there are ways around these rules. It is possible to self-publish a book, be extremely successful (which in the self-publishing world means selling more than 3000 copies, preferably a lot more), use these stats to score an agent, and then land a major publishing deal. Or you can try to find a small publisher who is excited about your work and then try to lure an agent with your pending contract.
Of course, I figure, why sell myself short? I’m going to take soul-crushing door number 3. I have next to no credentials, zero industry connections, I don’t really know how to write a proper query letter, and I have not done my research on appropriate agencies but, dammitall!, I’m going to wrangle myself an agent.
Really. I actually believe that.
If, for some obscure and unforeseeable reason, this doesn’t work… I’ll just have to sneak into some poor unsuspecting publishing house and hold someone hostage until they agree to print my book. Anything to avoid having to self-publish.
Self-publishing is like going to work, and having to pay for the privilege. I realize that a lot of people do it, and do it successfully, but realistically I know that I won’t be one of them. I have no earthly idea where to start when it comes to self-promotion, tours, book signings, websites, whatever. And have I mentioned that I’m a broke-ass writer?
‘Cause I’m a broke-ass writer.
I can’t afford to self-publish. That’s not to say I won’t be crawling on hands and knees to Author House if all other avenues fail. I want to see my book in print badly enough to pay for it myself, even if it will take me ten years of working at a non-writing job to be able to afford a decent run. Which means The Timekeepers’ War will likely be my first and last novel.
Unless I become one of those annoying “one-novel-per-decade” authors who have the audacity to write series’, foolishly believing that their fans will still be alive when the next instalment finally comes out. Which, let’s face it, I probably will.
What does all of this mean? What the hell do I do on a day-to-day basis?
Well, for starters, yesterday I dusted myself off and got back on the damn horse.
After receiving my first real rejection letter on Monday, I dove straight into the downward spiral of over-analytic self-doubt and self-loathing (we’ve talked about this). So, in order to distract myself from the sense of impending doom, I jumped into the internets. I spent most of the day yesterday reading more “How-to-Write-a-Super-Amazing-Query-Letter” resources, decided that mine was all wrong, rewrote it, and sent out another four. We’ll see if I get any bites on batch two before I start tearing my hair out. What’s left of it.
Trouble is, the standard 6-8 weeks wait is killing me. It’s only been two, and in some cases one, and I’m already checking my email like an obsessive compulsive squirrel…
…that has email.
I’ve tried to limit myself to sending out only a couple a day. Well, 2-5 really. Not just because it’s a lot of work, and I’m kind of lazy like that. But this way I won’t get all my rejections back at once and then try to drown myself in the bathtub. See? Strategic preemptive-self-defence manoeuvring. That’s a thing. Once the form-rejections start rolling in, I’ll still have to force myself to get out of bed every morning just in case.
So there you have it. In a nutshell (will the squirrel metaphors never stop?) this is what it looks like to try to get published. If you’re me. There are probably a lot more elegant guides out there, retrospective success stories and the like. But let’s face it. If you or someone you know is trying to get published for the first time, this is probably a little closer to the truth. You know, unless they’re not neurotic, angsty, depressed, anxious, and/or delusional.
But then, they’re not really writers, are they?
Now, it’s time for me to do some real work. I still have a short story to finish and a newsletter to publish sometime this month. Hopefully this was enlightening for some, and useful to others. Let me know what you think in the comments.