For me, breaking into publishing was like a scene from the movie The Great Escape. At times I was Charles Bronson, tunneling underground and trying to crawl my way through the soil. Sometimes I was Steve McQueen, locked up in solitary but lots less cool. Right now, I’m James Garner, in a plane heading for the Alps. Hopefully my plane isn’t leaking fuel.
1) Write brilliant novel;
2) Acquire an agent for said novel; and
3) Sign six-figure contract with a big publisher.
Um, no. I soon discovered agents had no interest in me unless I was a proven moneymaker. Fair enough, but that’s a Catch-22 isn’t it? Fortunately, the rise of e-publishers finally gave me an alternative. I learned I could submit directly to these e-publishers and have a better chance of breaking in than poor Angus Lennie (The Mole) had trying to climb over the barbed wire fence at the POW camp.
I used the author’s online resource Duotrope to narrow down a short list of publishers. Then I crosschecked with Absolute Write Water Cooler and Preditors & Editors to see what the publishers’ reputations were. Occasionally, I was cheeky enough to track down published authors on Goodreads and ask them their opinions of their publishers.
After I’d done my research, I began submitting manuscripts. Writing query emails and synopses are another topic altogether, but suffice it to say practice helps. Once I’d managed to place a few books, the whole process became easier. The publishers I’m with all have supportive author loops where you can ask questions and learn the ropes. Many experienced authors are more than willing to give advice or lend a helpful hand to the newbie.
Of course, my career didn’t just take off when I e-signed my contracts. I’m having to learn the fine art and craft of promotion. As Saturday Night Live’s Roseanne Rosannadanna used to say, “If it’s not one thing it’s another!” But it’s an awful lot better on this side of the fence, I must say.
~ S.G. Rogers
(Hat tip to Roberta J. Gordon (@GeminiWitching) for asking me to write this post)
Thoughtful girl: © Dmitry Yashkin | Dreamstime.com
Handful money: © Anatoly Tiplyashin | Dreamstime.com