Sunday, November 21, 2010

10 Easy Steps to Publication

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Fear not that your life shall come to an end, but rather fear that it never has a beginning. ~John Henry Cardinal Newton (Apparently I liked the quote from last week so much that I posted it two weeks in a row. Sorry about that!)

WORD COUNT: 10,620 new. Total Word Count: 26,974
So, I'm just a little behind the goal. However, I have almost doubled in three weeks what it took me three months to write before. That's something right? I know, excuses, excuses. But it is only the 21st of the month. I still have 9 days. A lot can happen in 9 days.


A friend asked me the other day what the process is for fiction writing for the purpose of publication. Well, I'm no expert, by all means. But this is the process that I've stumbled across.

1. After completing your novel (which took you 6 months to write - Woo! Hoo! - completed before your self-imposed deadline!), you put it aside and forget about it for 2 months. Then you pick it up again and for 6 months, make 10-15 revisions to it.

2. When you think you've made all the revisions you can possible make and keep it the original story you wanted to tell, you take it to your local writer's group for critique.

3. Return from the critique group and make another 10-15 different revisions.

4. Finally you determine all you are doing is rearranging words and its time to let the baby go, so you research agents.

5. After determining which agent will accept the genre you write, you learn that some accept a query letter only (i.e. a jacket flap, two paragraph blub stating what your book is about and a one sentence paragraph detailing the writing credential you don't have. Because if you did, you probably don't need to be querying agents), some accept a query letter and a 5 page synopsis, some accept a query letter and your first ten pages, while still others accept a query letter and a 1-2 page synopsis (which has to be written completely different from the 5 page synopsis).

6. You send out your query letters to 50 different agents, tailoring each letter to the agent you are querying, cutting and pasting your text because the agent website states you will be blacklisted if you send an attachment. Unfortunately, you notice too late that the last agent you send to, after rewriting your synopsis a third time to be no longer than their 3000 words requirement, states in the fine print that they accept exclusive submissions only. That means that they want to be the only agent you send your query letter to. And they will get back to you in 4-6 weeks if they decide to request a partial (first 50 pages) of your manuscript.

7. Most agents will say "Thank you for your submission, but you work is not really for us." But some agents will ask for a partial and some may actually ask for a full. Each partial or full will take the agent 3-6 months to review. And then they could still say no.

8. When you get the magic phone call from an agent stating they want to sign you, you do a happy dance and toast to yourself with your lukewarm coffee because for once you have the house to yourself and no one is around to help you celebrate, and your coffee cup is the closest drinking dish you could find.

9. After 3 more hefty revisions, your agent submits your book to publishers. After two agonizing months, one publisher bites, but wants additional revisions. And you comply. Again.

10. After 3 years from when you wrote the first word of the first chapter, your book is accepted for publication. But who knows when it will end up on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. That date has yet to be determined. You receive a miniature check resembling an advance for your book, and you may receive royalties if your book sells what the publisher says it should sell. And you learn all about e-books and royalty statements and Agent Paychecks. (Yes, now that your agent helped find a publisher for you, you have to pay her)

But you can now call yourself a published author. And you smile from ear to ear because you achieved your goal.

And it was worth it.

And you boot up your computer and write the first word of the first chapter of your second novel...

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