THE WORK OF PUBLISHING
How does it begin? Seems simple on the face of it. Meet a publisher or agent at a conference, get their card, and snail mail a copy of your manuscript or send a manuscript file as an attachment. Seems simple enough, right? And in some rare cases, and I do mean rare, it might work. On a good day, your contact might not have one hindred- or more – submissions on the desk, read your carefully typed and edited -I hope- and jump up to say, “This is it! The story I’ve been waiting for!”
This is a great dream, and may work in very rare cases. But what I soon discovered (for me and everyone has her own journey) as I completed the first draft of my young adult 80,000 word novel, it would take work, and I mean a lot of work to delve into the world of publication. First, I had to do a lot of research. And I had to find out what a query looked like. I was helped in those steps by a couple of people. First, my good friend Val, suggested I contact Shannon A. Thonpson on Messenger. I’ve been talking with Val for years, but had no idea he knew so much about publishing. Which alerted me to an important piece of info, research through people you know. Throw the idea out there and see what comes back.
I contacted Shannon and she messaged me. In case you don’t know, she is an accomplished author, having written the successful Bad Bloods series. and other YA novels. She sent a couple of valuable links to me about finding an agent and writing a query letter – the latter article I lived by in the process that followed. She is a terrific person, and if you go to her website, sign up for her newsletter. Fun, informative articles. BTW, a great one in July about how to query.
The research had just begun. I found lists of agents and publishers easily enough, but the next step is to survey the genre, characters, themes each may be looking for. Once I narrowed a list down, I took notes on each publisher or agents submission policy. I read more than once, follow the submission policy, and they make it clear: in the world of publishing, if you don’t, they will toss your precious piece of work.
Which leads to writing a query letter. Imagine taking a 300 page novel and writing a one sentence hook, a less than 200 word synopsis, and adding in whatever other details are requested, all in less than 400 words. If you can keep it at 300, great! Understand that, the recipient will usually just look at the hook, the one sentence descriptive, and decide whether or not to keep reading, asking that big time question, “Do I care about this? Will it sell? Why would I read this?” The hook is exactly that, hook, grab, coerce, beg, plead, shock, goad, -whatever – to interest the individual enough to read my synopsis and then to read my first 20 pages, if it was even requested in the submission guidelines. And, oh! make sure you don’t send in an attachment unless… that’s a whole topic. I had to learn a lot about copying and not just pasting. I’m not kidding. Everyone is nervous about opening attachments now.
If you’ve read this far, fill out my contact info on my home page (if you haven’t done so) or contact blurb at bottom right of this page, and I will send you my first query letter, which is pretty good I think. As an attachment of course!