a dear friend who had his works published in various Sci-Fi magazines in the 70’s and is currently writing an epic novel, began bombarding me with questions about today’s publishing process. Not that I didn’t want to answer every question he had, but it was my party. I was in no mood for an in depth third degree interrogation. The only things on my mind were cutting into the cake and seeing how far I could launch the rug rats in the bounce house.
After all the children hit the troposphere and returned to earth safely, the guests had left, clean up was complete, including every crumb of the delicious cake, I realized I wasn’t completely rude toward my friend, but I could have taken more time to be a little better of a hostess.
This morning I sat down at my computer, racking my brain about what to write for a guest blog, and SMACK, it bit me in the head like a chomp from Mike Tyson. Why not answer his questions and maybe someone else’s as well?
Let me begin first by saying the process is different for everyone, publishing house, and publishing style. So before you go crazy attacking the email and mail box of every publishing house in the yellow pages, there are a few things you must know. And when I say you must know, I mean know it. Don’t teeter on a maybe, kind of or possibly, be DEFINITE!
You want to write a strong query letter. These are typically only a page long. Be precise and get to your point. The publisher doesn’t need a ten page report about you or your body of work. Make your introduction, summary and bio, short and sweet.
Know your genre. There are enough sub-genres in fiction to circle the earth more than once. Find the one that fits best with your writing. Simply stating you have a 50,000+ fiction novel, tells the publisher nothing. Same rings true for saying you have a 50,000+ plus paranormal, fantasy, sci-fi, comedy, drama, horror, fiction novel. Also, being too specific may confuse them. Don’t add to the epidemic, simply give a good definition of genre and sub-genre.
Once you have your pitch perfected, don’t send it flying off the presses just yet. This next step is critical, so you take your time. After you’ve searched Google, Writer’s Digest, and the million and one other listings for publishers that are accepting new submissions, thoroughly investigate each one. Know who and what they represent. Cross check reviews and published works. If something smells like a fish market on a hot summer day, run! There are a lot of companies out there that are only interested in how much you will pay them to accept your work. Trust me, I had a few run-ins with companies such as that. *slaps self for being so naïve*
In our technological world, there are plenty of options for publishers and writers. While most are current with the times and publish in both e-formats and paper/hardback, there are some that find one or the other fits their company the best. If you want a tangible book sitting on the shelf of Barnes and Noble, don’t send your query to an E-Pub house. You’ll be highly disappointed come release day.
If the company looks great and offers your preferred publishing format, then you have one more step before sending them your super-pitch. Publishing houses, no matter how big or small, may have different people in charge of different genres. Know who you’re going to send your query to. The editor in horror isn’t going to fully appreciate your chick-lit and may trash it.
The big day arrives! You receive an acceptance letter! Yay for you! When you’re done doing your happy dance that frightens small children and the neighbor’s dog, take a breath. You’ve only built half of the pyramid.
After the uber cool acceptance letter, you should be receiving a contract shortly. Mine hit my inbox the next day. The time will vary from company to company. Don’t get caught up in the excitement. Read the darn thing people. If there is something you don’t understand, ask them. You’ll only look stupid if you don’t ask and find out later that they want to print your writing on the back of bathroom walls right next to the infamous toilet humor poem, ‘here I sit all broken hearted’.
After this gloriously tedious phase, you may receive an email with your suggested cover art attached. Now, if your heroine is a gorgeous, thick hipped, red head and they put a short skinny blond on the cover, say something. Just because they’re willing to print your book doesn’t mean they get all the say in its production. If you do not like it, do not okay it. Remember, this is your book. It represents you.
Next comes the dreaded editing stages. Again, every company is different, so the number of editing stages will vary by company. My novel, The Demon Side was dragged through four torturous stages.
When you hit stage one of editing, do not hyperventilate if your manuscript looks as if Freddy Kruger, Michael Meyers and Jeepers Creepers had a slashing contest. All the red lines, purple comments, and suggestions are part of the process. They don’t sum up your talent as a writer. They are just merely cleaning up what you may have missed.
Now, you’ve survived all the editing stages and you have a release date on your hands. Your job is done…right? BWHAHA. You wish. Writing the book is the easy part. It’s everything after that is real work. But I’ll have to tell you all about that on a later date.
There you have it folks, the publishing process from my point of view. Thank you all for your time. Heaven Liegh Eldeen, author of The Demon Side, over and out!