Becoming a published author is a lot like a videogame. There’s the main quest, writing the goddamn book, but there are also a bunch of mini quests and side quests. You have to do research, create an online presence, market yourself via the internet and local events, find an agent, write a book proposal, the list goes on and on.
On your ultimate quest, publishing said book, you will face many foes; online haters, lack of support, misinformation, distractions, and rejection.
I myself have encountered every one of these Boss Level Enemies save for the enemy known as Lack of Support. I find myself blessed with the support of friends, family, coworkers and total strangers.
The problem lies in getting that first yes and making that first connection. To put it simply, Agents are the Gatekeepers and quality Query Letters are the Keyholders.
It took me several dozen query letters before I was able to find my wonderfully dedicated agent, Alyssa. I met her through a contact at a writer’s conference and she was the archeologist who dug through the pile of submittals and came across mine. She reached out and, to me at least, her email was akin to the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary. I was stunned, bewildered, and anxious. Most importantly I was thrilled. But also terrified. Regardless of what I was feeling, I felt like my first major hurdle, finding an agent willing to work with me, had been…well…hurdled.
The unrealistic and impulsive part of my brain was under the severely incorrect assumption that, once I had an agent, it was smooth sailing. I couldn’t be farther from the truth. I first had to write a book proposal (not in any way fun) and then my agent would submit that to publishing companies. Several months later I was starting to get worried again. Not because I wasn’t getting responses, no, responses from a publishing company can take up to six months. SIX MONTHS! The reason I was getting worried is because I’m an impatient, neurotic mess when it comes to waiting more than 0.004 seconds for absolutely anything.
When I got my first round of answers they were initially crushing. A few publishers who had initially expressed interest had decided to take a pass on my debut novel. One editor however, a saint from Tor, took time out her insanely busy schedule to give me some invaluable advice about how I structured the beginning of my story and the problems in pacing. I took her words to heart and, after a depressed day of dismal dejection, I got back to work. I added almost 5000 words to my manuscript in the form of new scenes that tied the characters introduced in the beginning of the book into further scenes throughout the book, making the time and attention I gave them in the beginning relevant.
So once my manuscript had gone through a vigorous editing process it was time to send it out into the world again. The time between when I signed a contract with an agent and when I signed a contract with a publishing company was an 11 month journey. And the ride was rough.
After that, I falsely assumed that the hard part was over and I could just kick back and work on my next writing project. (Insert asthma inducing laughter here) That was not to be. They wanted my poor manuscript to go through another round of author induced edits before the actual Editor would take a look at it. Other than that, with this publishing company at least, the rest required a relative lack of effort.
I signed the contract with Black Rose in July and, eight months later, The Sword & Shield was released into the world.
It’s been one hell of a trip but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Now I get to do it all over again with Seer.
Bye for now!