Saturday, February 1, 2014

From Pen to Publisher . . . Part 2

Begin with PART 1
Last time I focused on the first 3 steps of getting your story written and revised. You can read that post HERE.

All righty! You have bitten the bullet, listened to your editor/reader, taken his or her advice, and polished your manuscript until it sparkles. Your mother thinks it's the most wonderful creation since the original six days; even your brother thinks it's pretty good. Perhaps you have attended a writer's conference and learned even more tricks and applied them to your story. There is nothing left to do. So . . . now what?
First Edition; Only Edition!
Again, I must take you back a few years. Here is what one of my dearly beloved stories looked like when I was a young teen, say 13 or 14, or maybe even older. I wanted a REAL BOOK, so I hand-copied my space story, The Stars Know the Way, into a blank book my grandfather found for me in the local dump. It was 107 pages long and took me six months to carefully copy my story (and draw those cute little pictures too). It gives you respect for the copyists who carefully copied the Word of God for all those years before the printing press.

This is one way to publish a book. Not the most efficient, and certainly not the best plan if you want to share your stories with others (which I never planned to do. I finally got talked into it for the Andi books. Aren't you glad?)

So, let's explore more realistic ways to get your story turned into a real book you can hold in your hand, share with others, and--what a concept--even SELL! Taking up from where I left off yesterday, the next step is:

4. Find a publishing company who might be interested in your book. This is comparable to A) winning the lottery, or B) finding the Lost Ark of the Covenant. Yes, nearly impossible these days. It was pretty hard back in 2000 too, when I was doing it. An important resource is the Christian Writer's Market Guide. It lists all the Christian publishers, their contact information, what they want to see (don't send your murder mystery to a publisher who only publishes Amish romance), if you need an agent, and other essential information. MOST publishers do not accept "unsolicited" (unrequested) manuscripts any longer. Strike One. So, how do you get a publisher to REQUEST your manuscript? Read on . . .

5. Another way to find a publisher is by attending a Christian Writers Conference. Editors come from their publishing houses to do one thing: sit around and listen to authors pitch their story ideas during the 2, 3, 4, or 5 days of the conference. A book "pitch" is kind of like a movie trailer, but not as much fun to listen too. Seriously . . . you tell the editor what you're working on (you try to get him excited about it!) and would he be interested in seeing it? Usually, they say "yes, send it to me." Hooray! You have just gotten the magic password into a publishing house. Your manuscript has been requested! Downside: Writers' conferences are not cheap to attend. Strike Two.

6. One other way to find a publisher who might be interested in your story (yes, I can tell you are getting desperate by now) is by having an endorsement or recommendation from an already-established author, who is with a publisher who publishes what you write. This is how I finally sneaked in through the door. My mentor (the author who marked up my manuscript with all the red ink) thought my story was good enough to recommend me to her editor at Kregel Publications.
Strike . . . no, wait! No Strike Three! I hit the ball!

In the next post, I will explain what happens AFTER the publisher accepts your manuscript for publishing. If you think your troubles are over ("I won the lottery!"), think again . . .

Go to PART 3

Before being recommended to Kregel by my author-friend, I used the Christian Writers' Market Guide to send my manuscript to many places. Here is my first rejection letter. A very first rejection letter is your "mark of a warrior." It hurts! But it is a badge of honor. It shows yourself (and any naysayers) that you are serious about your craft!

Note the date of this letter, September 1999. Long Ride Home was finally published in 2005.
Below the letter, you can see a number of places I sent the story too. Some were an "almost." But "almost" never morphs into a published book. 

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  1. Wow, that's great info! thanks Mrs. M! :)

  2. Wow! I didn't realize how hard it would be to get a publisher to publish your book!

  3. Lol the signature on the letter... Wow, getting a publisher is really hard.

  4. Kinda reminds me of Jo March and Anne Shirley trying to get their stories published!

  5. I agree with Jessica I DOES seam like a lot of work!!! Mrs. M what is the Carters cooks name?

    1. Luisa is the housekeeper and she also cooks, along with Nila.

  6. Ok thanks!!! It does remind me of Ann ! Megs:-)

  7. I think this is sort of cool/funny. The date on your letter was four days after I was born. I just thought it was cool.

  8. :O...uh oh, this sounds complicated! :) I'll just have to keep working on it... :P
    Thanks for all your time you gave us to explain the ins and outs of publishing your manuscript. I really appreciate it. :)

  9. Oh boy! I don't think I'm going to be publishing a book anytime soon! =P

  10. I love hearing this story, it makes me chuckle and smile. I know how hard it was for you but I'm so glad you stuck through it, now we have your wonderful Circle C Adventures, Circle C Beginnings, Goldtown Adventures and soon the Circle C Milestones! Can't imagine our library without your books. :)
    Great post, looking forward to the next one.

    -Calamity Rene


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