Before I start today's post, here are the winners of the blog-jog t-shirt contest:
Barbara M. Hodges
Please fill out the contact form at ganzfield.com.
Include your shirt size (S, M L, XL) in the comments section. They run a little small after they're washed, so go with the larger size if you're on the fence.
Then, just send me a picture by June 10th of you wearing it (with the front logo visible, please!)--I'll add it to the collection.
Back to today's post: Independent Publishing (Part 1 of however many it takes). I finished the articles that my publicist requested, but we found that the one about "How I Got Published" didn't really fit the rest of the campaign. But it fits here, since several of you asked for the info--so here it is:
The first part of publishing your book is writing it.
Checklist Item #1: Write Manuscript
Chances are, you read Nathan Bransford's blog and you think that the next step is writing a query letter and sending it to agents. Ha! Wrong wrong wrong. The next step is to revise. When you finish revising, revise again. Polish that sucker until you can see your face shining in it. Get feedback from responsible readers (people who know how to write well and will give you honest feedback). Take their critiques to heart, and revise again.
Do NOT shake off criticism as "They just don't understand my work," unless they really don't—and you're OK with that. My grandmother is intelligent, literate, and a published author, but she doesn't "get" Minder. She thought the action was "too intense," and she wanted them to "stop and eat a bowl of cereal once in a while." Fortunately, octogenarian New Englanders aren't my target demo. I didn't add the quiet cereal scene--all my meal scenes are action-packed with the threat of imminent violence.
Once your book is really, really, REALLY ready--write your query letter, revise THAT a bunch of times, and then send it out. When I queried agents for Minder, I got a bunch of partial and full manuscript requests, but nothing panned out. I think I read that agent Janet Reid got over 10,000 queries in 2009--and took on two new clients. The odds are against you.
So, if your queries are successful--and getting 10% "Send me more!" responses is considered successful at this stage--you'll start sending out partial and full manuscripts. If you get an agent at this stage--congratulations! If not, well…
Now comes the moment of decision. Is your book really as good as you think it is? What did the professionals say? What works and what doesn't? Does it need another revision; does it need to go in the drawer; or is it publishable, but just not getting into the right hands?
Be brutally honest with yourself. You can be sad and disappointed now--or sad, disappointed, poorer, and several months closer to death later. My first novel, Bagastana, is still in the drawer. I queried extensively, but I never got even one partial request on it. I keep telling myself that I'll get back to it someday and revise it up to professional caliber later.
The point is, I moved on. My second effort was originally titled Maddie Dunn. It's the story of a sixteen-year-old who can kill with her thoughts. The book's now called Minder, and it comes out next month.
And tomorrow, I'll tell you how I got it there.*
* By writing cliffhanger endings that kept people coming back for more.