When writing If, I never even considered the publishing aspect of it all. It was simply an exercise to combat the frustration of being out of commission for a spell during an illness. I found myself on the back deck contemplating the past and what I might do in the future and when. After spending entirely too much time with myself, I decided to create new “friends” in the characters in the book that I had put off writing for about 20 yrs.
Mr. Banos and I had a lot to talk about as he had many ills and his days were filled with crankiness. He also had a fondness for scotch, which I also had quite an interest. Master Bennie filled my days with continual comic relief as well as led me back to practicing daily meditation, which has been a key to my recovery. Even the bastard William gave me something of a daily puzzle to look forward to as I had to make sure he got the due he so richly deserved, but yet somehow save him as all life, even his, has value. Besides, it would be bad for my karma if I had killed him, although I still might. I guess you’ll have to read the second book in the series to find out.
And that brings me to the second part of this topic, how did I become a published author?
That was easy. NOT. Like most writer’s I scoured all of the publisher’s lists for answers and finally determined that nobody knew me. I then thought, “Why not seek a literary agent to do that work for you?” So, I got hold of a list of literary agents. Now, understand, my background was marketing, so most of you might not have done this to begin with. The first thing I did was target all of the literary agents that specialize in my genre. Then I began. Writing the queries. Sending the samples of the book along with anything else that they wanted. Some didn’t respond. Most did. Most took the time to write a nice note of rejection versus a form letter of rejection. That was compelling. At least my wallpaper would be original.
About the time I had received the last notice, I looked on my desk at a Chick Lit publisher that I had not sent a query. I was holding off as I was not sure if my genre would mesh with her needs. Let me repeat that, HER NEEDS. You should always know if what you are pitching might fit a person’s needs. I just wasn’t sure in this case, so I did something no one does anymore, I PICKED UP THE PHONE. Surprised? I was. I got a voicemail and said, “Well, she’ll never call back.”
Within 20 mins., I got a call back. We talked for about a half hour. It seems that she had just opened a second publishing arm that would be open to other genres. She asked me to send her a query and the book. She said she would read three chapters over the weekend and let me know Monday. (long weekend)
Monday came, she said it was beautifully written and she was interested. Now this took balls, but I said, “OK, but I want you to read it all before we sign as I want to make sure that you are completely on board.” Here I was, an unknown, telling a publisher that even though she said she wanted the book, she had to read it all. Yeah, nuts, I know, but at my age I just didn’t want my book to end up laying on somebody’s desk forever.
Now that I am a published author, my days are spent relaxing in the sun, writing, drinking lattes and Pina Coladas. Right. If you think that getting published means you’re through, you are in for a big surprise. You have just started.
I start everyday checking marketing stats and answering emails. Then I fine tune my campaigns and make sales calls. Yes, sales calls. The books don’t fly off the shelves when nobody knows you. To make it clear there are 400 books added daily to the market place. Where is yours?
Oh, and then there is the writing time. Afternoons are filled with finishing books two and three for publication and writing blogs and posts like this one.
Piece of Cake!
Spencer’s Two Cents:
Let me just be candid here—I didn’t think If would ever be published. Not because it’s a boring book or because I don’t think there’s an audience out there for it (if I felt that way I would have never finished it) but because it’s the third novel I’ve written. Of the three, I think they’re all great stories that deserve to be read. But If was the one to make a splash. Why? It’s simple—getting published isn’t about writing a good book. It’s about hard work and absolute determination.
My Dad is underplaying the amount of time he spent drafting and revising multiple query letters, combing through labyrinthine lists of submission requirements for publishers, and researching the most targeted markets he could. Like he said, there’s new 400 books coming out every day. It’s a business of selling yourself, and not getting lost in the shuffle.
So, you want advice for transforming yourself into a published author? Start focusing on what you do well. Figure out who would really appreciate those skills. Write an excellent query letter that’s target-specific. Repeat 10,000 times. And smile.