Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What Was I Doing All Those Years?

For many years now I have been an Aspiring Author. A Writer, who was technically unemployed (although I think they stopped counting me in the statistics because I have been so long without a full-time job), and yet also filled the Stay-at-Home Parent role which made me Not Job-less. Trust me, I've worked hard these many years with no pay.

And yet I still considered myself an Aspiring Author.  Maybe some of you wonder what it is that I did all those years when I wasn't working (for pay).  Well, a few things (besides take care of my beautiful children, of course).

I ate some candy.

I wrote a lot. Three books, four plays, a few screenplays.

I researched the writing business a lot. You've got to know what it is your trying to do, I suppose. I read many, many articles and books, I looked up agents and publishers who accepted manuscripts in my genre.

To these agents and publishers I would send a query.  Basically, a query is a pitch. I would find an agent or a publisher and I would send them a letter that had a brief blurb about me, and then a brief blurb about my book (in a certain style, of course).

Then, I would wait. At the beginning, I would send out one query at a time. But I soon learned that it's not always a quick response from agents and publishers (and sadly, most of the time you don't even get a response). So, I started sending out simultaneous queries.  And when I would get a rejection from one, I usually always had one (or more) out to keep my hopes alive.

And then I would rewrite my queries. I was always honing them, always sending them to my wife for feedback.  It's really a craft all by itself, the writing of the query. You have to include the plot, the main characters, the conflict, the tension, and the tone in just 200 words. Trying to capture an 80,000-90,000 word book in 200-300 words is not easy. It needs to be the most interesting, compelling thing that someone will read that day. No pressure.

Sometimes, an agent or a publisher would request more. It might be 10 pages, or a chapter, or three chapters. Some wanted a synopsis, or even the whole manuscript.

One time I went to Niagara Falls.

Then there would be more waiting.  And more rejections. I sort of wish that I could tell you how many I got, but at one point my computer crashed and I lost the database where I was keeping track of it all.  Maybe that was a good thing.

Because then I started using something called QueryTracker. And, that's where I found WiDo Publishing and sent a query to them.  And lo! they have given me a chance and signed me as one of their authors (my book is currently in the Editor's hands).

The publishing industry is an interesting beast. There are really only five major publishing houses who control the vast majority of books being published.  Then, there are self-publishing houses (vanity presses - you have to pay them to have your book published there), you can self-publish and not go through a press, and then there is the Small Press, which is what WiDo is.  (And if you want to know more about the Small Press, you should read this article written by another of WiDo's authors, Elizabeth Maria Naranjo, who just launched her first novel, The Fourth Wall.)

So, all those years of waiting to sign a publishing contract, I was actually doing something, even though a lot of the time it felt like I wasn't really doing anything.

I'm so relieved and thankful to have gotten a publishing contract, and I certainly hope this isn't the last of me in the industry. However, I know the ropes better now, so I'll always plug along, as long as I have a story in me to tell.

1 comment:

  1. It is a long, lonely road for the writer. So glad you had a wife in your camp who believed in you and did everything possible to give you the opportunity. I have great hopes for you, Scott!