A year of writing a story will soon end. As I approach the finish line, I romanticize about it sitting on the shelf at my local bookstore. But, how I do I get it there? I am not a writer in the traditional sense, or perhaps even stereotypical sense. My full-time job as an electrical engineer does not involve writing, publishing, editing, or even place me in the domain of these professions. I work with software, circuit boards, and computers. A place where others sometimes scoff at being grammatically correct and using complete sentences.
I’ve written quite a bit insofar as fiction in my spare time. And, I want to see one book in particular published. So, where do I begin? I don’t know any literary agents, editors, or anyone in the publishing world – I don’t have an in. I’m sure many of you are in the same boat and heading down the same path. My instinct is to immediately self-publish, let my book gain some traction, and then contact an agent about having it published. But, upon speaking to an editor at a writing conference, he advised against that approach. He said it’s not a legal thing, it’s just something that doesn’t really happen.
So, off I go into the googles for how to publish a book. Or, how to query an agent. But, if you’re like me, you discover the publishing process to be, not so black and white. I wasn’t expecting to find a Betty Crocker approach for publishing a book. But, as I come across information, I wonder what should be taken with a grain of salt, and what should be taken as a rule of thumb. There are lots of great articles out there, but some can contradict each other.
Consider this statement I came across in a book aimed at a writer querying an agent, “You should never have a manuscript finished before querying an agent.” But, when I look at agents online, most are saying be able to provide a manuscript, or at least put the word count in your query letter. That’s great if they explicitly say what they want, but what if they don’t? Which is it? If an agent doesn’t say have a manuscript available upon request, should I assume they want something unfinished? What if I query them and they ask for a synopsis, or word count, or any other number of things. Then what? If you’re like me, you’re worried you won’t do the right thing, or end up doing something very, very wrong and ruin your chances of being published. Don’t get me started on what I find online regarding a synopsis.
This is just one ambiguous remark I’ve come across that makes me pause before jumping into the publishing world. But, regardless of the ambiguities within each publishing approach, there appears to be three – self publishing (perhaps through Amazon); a small/local publisher where an agent isn’t required; or traditional publishing, what I call swinging for the fences and finding an agent to sell/market your book to one of the big league publishers. So, as I look into each of these, the big question is, what’s involved with each and how do they impact each other? If I choose one, am I shooting another in its foot? Again, I have to pause and think. I don’t want to rush into this. I need to establish a trajectory.
So, off I go into the wild blue yonder. I will choose a path, and let you know what I learn along the way in the form of blogs. I’m sure I’ll add other thoughts along the way too. I hope you enjoy the ride.