It’s Written, Now What?

I’ve found in the few short months since I became a published author that there are lots of un-published writers out there. I have been asked all kinds of questions about my journey from pen to press, one being, “How did you get published? My first response to that question would be, “By the grace of God.” Then it goes something like this.

First thing you have to do is write something and complete it. You’d be surprised at the publishing companies who have to print in their submission guidelines, “Do not submit unless the manuscript is complete.” I know how impatient we can become and jump the gun, but trust me; you really need to have a polished, finished product ready before you let the eyes of the world rest upon your work.

Once you’ve labored and strained over every word, then it’s time to get a professional to edit your work. On my second novel, I thought, “Man this thing is almost perfect!” Guess what? When it came back from my editor it looked like it had been shot with a 410 shotgun loaded with red ink blots instead of lead. Other eyes see the flaws and mistakes that our own have come accustomed to. I have read a page ten times and on the eleventh, see that I’ve used lose, when I should have used loss or loose… know what I mean?

Okay, now months have passed and the editing is finished, what next? I purchased a (advice from my editor Jo Martin) “Writers Market” book, filled with information on where and how to sell what you write. 3500 listings for book publishers, consumer magazines, trade journals, literary agents and more!

I ordered the 2009 volume sometime in the fall of 2008. It was my first on line purchase, I know, I’m pitiful. That book became my best friend as I scanned and researched page after page. Going through each publishing companies merits, wants and needs. Trying to find the perfect fit. I made a list of publishers that I would send my novel to and went to work. Every publishing company has different guidelines so each query, synopsis and cover letter had to be critiqued to their specifications. Does it take a lot of time? Yes? Do you spend a lot of money on copies, ink and postage? Yes. Do you get a lot of rejections? Yes, yes, and yes! One good thing I’m finding out is that most of the publishing companies now are going green and you can send your manuscript/pitch to them via email. This saves loads of time and money.

What next? I’ve got 30 queries out there; do I stop and wait to see what happens? No. Send more! Very few publishing companies require exclusives anymore. The once un-thought of simultaneous submission is now acceptable. I certainly respect the fact that some publishers want to know if you’ve sent your work to other companies, and honor the ones who have realized what a competitive, rat race industry publishing has become and does not want to exclusively tie up a manuscript for months then reject it.

I hold those publishing companies who actually respond to you in the time frame they’ve set in their guidelines in my highest esteem. Even if that frame of time is 3,6 or 9 months. Yes, it takes that long to receive responses from some publishers. One company I recently heard back from was sent a query over a year ago. Their apology, and rejection was not needed, I’d already written them off myself.

That brings me to my last point. Self. During all of this you can lose you self-worth. You can be tricked into believing your work really stinks. As the rejections pile up they will either smother you or be consumed as fuel for your creative fire. Very few publishing companies take the time to send you a personal rejection. You simply receive, in a self-addressed, stamped envelope that you sent them, a form letter that says this or that, but bottom line it says, NO! Don’t ever stop believing in yourself. Most of the publishing companies will not even let you send over three paragraphs or one or two chapters. How can you judge a story without the middle and the end?

“Luckily” one day I thought, “Maybe I’m going at this the wrong way. I’m sending my stuff to the big boys in New York, but who’s to say New York is the only land of publishing companies, and who am I to think those big boys would notice little ole’ me? Who’s to say they are the authority, the lord and master over the publishing industry. Just because I long to be on the “New York Best Sellers List” that doesn’t make them that special… well maybe!” Anyway that day I went back to my “Writers Market” book and opened it up and there was the section on small presses. This is where I found a company called, “Lucky Press”, and on January 6th, 2010 I emailed a cover letter, synopsis, and the first three chapters of “Guardian Spirit.” After a couple of weeks I received an email from Lucky Press asking me to send more chapters… I sent the entire thing! On February 8th I received another email from Lucky Press saying, “ Thank you for submitting your manuscript, “Guardian Spirit”, to Lucky Press. It is a lovely story. It is well written, captivating, has endearing characters, and an exciting conclusion. I really liked it very much”

And now for the rest of the story… “Guardian Spirit” was created by a simple, more than middle-aged woman who always held a dream of having one of her stories published. She worked hard, never gave up and closed her eyes to the rejections. For everything there is a season. Run the race, and prayerfully ask for guidance… and the right eyes to read your work, hopefully there is a Lucky Press out there waiting for you.

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