The road to getting your book published will make you feel as though you're in a busy intersection and every light you hit is "red" or each corner has a STOP sign. Finding a publisher is a treacherous and time-consuming task, not for the faint of heart. Basically, there are two options—you can self-publish your book or search for a publisher/agent willing to take on your project with the enthusiasm and fortitude that inspired you to write your treasured manuscript. Choosing the latter is easier said than done.
If a mantra of Now What was the theme for writing my first book, it quickly changed to Put On Your Raincoat during my endeavors to find a publisher. In the absence of a leaky roof or a water balloon fight, you're probably wondering why a raincoat is recommended for this process of your journey. It stems from the chronicles written about Saint Francis of Assisi. He was born to a life of affluence and his temper was legendary. Anyone foolish enough to oppose or correct him would soon be ducking as tables, chairs, glasses (or whatever else was handy) hurled in their direction if an irate Francis was crossed. People became wary of him and soon learned the road to peace was paved with acquiescence. However, as legend has it, one man new to the region was speaking with Francis and, gasp, disagreed with his opinion. Anyone in the nearby vicinity took several paces back as they waited for Francis's rage to explode. To the astonishment of all, he remained calm and told the gentleman he was entitled to his beliefs. No one could understand it. Perhaps it was just a fluke but surely it wouldn't last. Weeks passed and another stranger contradicted Francis who, once again, smiled and resumed a normal conversation. A good friend of Francis, emboldened by their years of camaraderie, approached him and inquired about this newfound ability to control his temper. He replied simply, "I put on a raincoat and let offensive remarks fall off me as if they were raindrops."
So, I put on my raincoat and tackled the arduous task of finding a publisher. I decided not to self-publish because I wanted the validation of a professional who agreed my book was ready for public consumption (not for eating, of course, because that would make for a very dry meal.) I did lots of research, joined several RSS feeds about the do's and don'ts of finding a publisher, and checked numerous websites that cater to several genres (AARonline.org, AgentQuery.com, QueryTracker.net, and Writers.net, to name a few.)
Before contacting anyone, you need to compose a one-page query letter, which in essence, has an eye-catching intro paragraph, short synopsis of your novel, and a list of writing credits. To accomplish the last requirement, I wrote several short stories that I was lucky enough to have published. Next, the dreaded query letter that makes you feel as though you're running in quicksand where the slightest wrong word will send your work of art plunging to the depths of being filed under "D" (cool talk for delete.)
After sending hundreds of query letters and receiving just as many rejections (my raincoat certainly got a lot of use during this time), you can imagine my delight when Tate Publishing said they loved my book (not nearly the polished version of today) and all I had to do was sign a contract and send them a check for $4,599 to assist with marketing fees. Luckily, there was a website "Predators and Editors" (pre-ed.com; currently being revamped) where they listed this publishing house on the Beware list. Whew, dodged a bullet! They still call every six months even after my book was published, so I clearly made the right decision.
Back to the drawing board - but this time I had a secret weapon—my editor, Lorraine Fico-White of Magnifico Manuscripts. She gently guided me through the process of revising my book until it shone like a duck's foot (my mother's expression whenever we reached perfection.) Fortunately, my editor put my books in the hands of a small, author-owned publisher. When the publisher read my novel, she provided a fantastic and detailed second-eyes review which prompted the last round of revisions. When she accepted my finalized book into the Cambron Publishing family and sent an official press release, it was one of the happiest days of my life. I had my validation!
Up next: Marketing your book