It's the holy grail, the reason so many of us write: publication. Whether you're writing a book, or an article, or a poem, everyone wants their work to see the light of day. After all, if you're writing, there's an assumption that some day, somewhere, somebody will read your work. If nobody does, the process feels incomplete.
And, really? It's not so hard.
HAHAHAHAHAHA. I just fell off my chair because I laughed so much.
Because while the steps to follow are not particularly hard, getting your book (or article, or poem) to the right person at the right time can be a challenge. Rejections ensue. We get discouraged. But then we pick ourselves right back up and do it again, right?
I hope so. Because a huge part of this business is playing a numbers game. As in, sending your work out over and over and over again. Here are the rules of the game to follow:
1. Write an awesome book. Work that baby the best you know how. Edit it and revise and rewrite until you are so proud of your work you could just burst. Because your ego might a few times during this process, and its helpful to feel secure that you've done your very best.
2. Package it correctly. As in, learn standard formatting, which does not include, um, single spacing. I have actually been at writer's conferences where people raised their hands and asked if sending in hand-written manuscripts was okay. This was quite a few years ago, but still. Imagine. If you don't know how to format ask the Google. It knows everything.
3. Do your research. This article assumes you'll be submitting books to traditional publishers and/or small presses. If you're hitting up traditional publishers, this means you'll be going through an agent first. And agents have certain things they are looking for, as do small presses. It is up to you to figure this out. Do not send a non-fiction query to an agent that only accepts fiction, and vice-versa. C'mon, you're smart, you can figure this out.
4. Follow instructions to the letter. I don't do well at this–I'm the sort of person who gets a new gadget and starts pressing buttons rather than reading instructions. But in the case of the publishing world, you want to read up on exactly what they want you to send them and then do just that. Don't send your full manuscript when they've asked for five pages. Don't send an email query when they've requested only snail mail submissions (rare these days, but it still happens). Send exactly what they ask for.
5. Think good thoughts. Really, mindset is three-quarters of the battle in this game. Stay as positive as you can throughout the process. When you get a rejection–and unless you are God, you will–take a few minutes to weep and wail and then get over it and send out to the next agent in line. (By the way, forget that crap about no simultaneous submissions. You could be 89 when you get published otherwise.)
6. Keep track. I mean of your submissions. Though this can be difficult, since some agents refuse to deign to respond to queries if they are not interested. (This is a pet peeve of mine, because it is just plain rude. How hard is it to hit reply and say no thanks?) But I remember getting confused, as some agency descriptions sound similar, as to which agents I had queried, even though I kept good records.
7. Rinse and repeat. For as long as it takes. Once your manuscript is finished your job, at least part of the time, is to send out ships and see what comes back. You should always have at least 5-10 queries out. Take heart–there are a lot of agencies, and a lot of publishers. You could play this game for a long time.
And then will come the day when you win! The day when an agent emails you and says she would like to represent you or a publisher emails and says they want to bring out your book. And then it is all worth it. Trust me.
How many times have you sent out your book?
Photo by elvinstar.