Every author knows that there are several steps to getting published.
1- Write the first draft.
2- Edit, edit, edit until your fingers bleed red.
3- Research literary agents and/or small publishers.
4- Write your query letter (this could take several drafts).
5- Get the latest Writer’s Digest Writer’s Market (they have several editions).
6- Send out a personalized query letter to all the agents and/or small publishers that you are interested in.
7- Wait for the right one to say yes.
8-Sign with the best one for you and wait for your book to be sold.
**I must add a note here that this list applies to the traditional publishing route. You can forgo this if you decide to self-publish. There are several authors who self-publish and are very successful.**
I am currently at step six and I wanted to share with you my thoughts and feelings so far. So much of the publishing industry is a mystery and I know that many of you value my insight. Here I go:
-Querying is a long process and it is helpful if you have a plan of attack. I have a list of literary agents that I feel would be a good fit for me. They are honorable agents and have an excellent reputation. Monday through Friday, I send out three query letters a day to possible agents. I am sending out three because it is the perfect amount for my schedule.
-After each query letter I send out, I notate in an Excel spreadsheet who I sent it to, what agency they are with, their email, what I sent along with the query letter (one page book synopsis, number of pages of my manuscript, etc), date I sent it, date they replied and a comment section. Keeping track is VERY important!
-Go online to each literary agent’s website and look at who they are, what authors they represent and what they are looking for. It only takes a few minutes and it will give you a clearer picture of who they are and what they could offer you.
-ALWAYS obey the submissions guidelines for each agent! Each agent has a different set of guidelines. You should treat it like applying for a dream job. You want to wow them with your professionalism and attention to detail.
-NEVER say anything bad on SOCIAL MEDIA about an agent or publisher. I see this a lot and I just shake my head. If you slam an agent for rejecting you, every other agent will shy away from you as no one likes to be slammed online.
-Rejection is part of the process and I understand that. It still hurts, though, and the key to not letting it crush you as a writer is perspective. I know that my book is a winner. I know that it will be a best seller. I also know that it is not for everyone. There will be some agents who will pass. When I get a rejection email, I notate it in my spreadsheet and think of J. K. Rowling. She is one of the most successful authors of today and she was rejected by more than 150 agents. :-)
-I have sent out 23 queries so far and have gotten 3 rejections. I smile to myself because with each rejection, I feel like I am one step closer to finding the right agent for me and my book.
-It is a long process. Ask any author who has been published. You have to be patient. Don’t get discouraged. Stay upbeat. Think of it like winning the lottery and you are just searching through the thousands of number combinations, waiting for the right one.
-Keep writing. I know this may sound weird but hold on and let me explain. A writer improves his/her craft the more he/she writes. Even though I am working on getting an agent right now, I am still writing. I am writing in this wonderful blog and am brainstorming for the second book in the series. Not only is this improving my writing skills, but it is keeping my mind focused on the book, “Princess of the Light”.
I hope these insights help you to understand the querying process better. Remember, each writer’s experience is different. This is my experience to date and I will, of course, keep you abreast of any new developments. ;-)