My entrance into the world of publishing didn't happen like most.
I never wrote a query letter, never pitched a proposal.
But in the middle of writing Come Alive, I knew these words were morphing into something I wanted to share. It went from a challenge I gave myself to something I wanted others to read. This both terrified and excited me.
So I purchased a copy of Writer's Market and went through the sections on agents and publishers. My calendar started filling up with goals of who to email, who to research, and how many words I wanted to write.
And then life happened and my 55,000 word manuscript sat on the shelf for a few years before a friend encouraged me to finish it and submit it to a contest hosted by a new publishing house looking for authors.
I made myself a deal. I'd work to finish the novel, and if I finished by the deadline I would send it in—if not, I would at least have worked more on the story than I had in the past few years combined.
I finished the last 10,000 words and sent in a [very rough] copy of Come Alive and made the finals of the competition.
I didn't win, but making the finals gave me the energy to believe that maybe, just maybe, there was a place for Stephanie's story in the world. I sent out a tweet, asking for direction about this new thing called "self-publishing" and received a lot of information about vanity presses, pdf-.mobi conversion and questions about whether or not it even worked.
And then Rhizome sent me a DM, telling me to check my email.
Apparently they wanted to publish Come Alive anyway. I agreed to step on board with the publisher and signed for a ePub version of my novel to release December 2011.
So even though it took close to three years for my book to find its home, the time period between me finishing the manuscript and someone picking it up was only a few months.
This is not normal.
I learned quickly that sometimes, the rules of publishing don't apply. Sometimes, you don't have to search endlessly for an agent. Sometimes, your book just happens to fall into the hands of a hopeful publishing house just starting their search for authors. Sometimes, things just fall into place and you find yourself with a book deal when you weren't even looking for one. And these can be good things. Awesome, even.
But it doesn't mean it's perfect or right or the way you should go.
Would I trust my manuscript in the hands of a fledgling publishing house now? No. I wouldn't. If I could do things over, I would do a few things differently -
- I would take the time to make Come Alive the best it could be before sending it in to a publisher [seriously. I cringe with this statement. You have no idea how rough it was...]
- I would slow my roll with just getting my words out and pursue representation. A good agent who knows and believes in my words equates to gold in the publishing world.
- I would research possibilities of self-publishing, including hiring and editor+publicity team.
Going into publishing, I knew nothing—nothing—about the nitty gritty. I didn't know networking was so important. I didn't know I could advocate for my words. I didn't know the punch in my gut was worth pursuing when things got sketchy. I didn't know there were other options, and when I realized there were, I had no idea how to follow them.
This week, I'll be talking about what I wish I knew back when publishing was just a whisper of a possibility. I don't know everything, but I do know some things, and hopefully by the end of the week you'll know that if you have a manuscript or are toying with the idea of actually writing that book you've been wanting to write you'll know two things: you're not crazy and you can do this.
The Schedule -
Monday - Knowing the Industry
Tuesday - For Love of Beta Readers
Wednesday - Finding the Discipline
Thursday - What I Know About Agents
Friday - Encouragement :: You Aren't Crazy For Wanting to Write a Book