So, if you have been following my posts, you have been along for the fun ride of trying to write a book and get it published. Since I had no experience before this, I thought that pretty much writing a book was all there was to do. As you may know by now, I was wrong. After you write your book, you get some people to read it, then you re-write it all over again. Then, unless you are incredibly gifted, you get yourself an editor and tear it down once more. Then you get some more people to read it and after that, correct anything you want changed.
After that harrowing ride, you have to find a publisher. First, finding a small press interested in your type of book is hard. There are many small publishing houses out there. They don't all publish your type of book though. Many want children's book, Young Adult stories and non-fiction seems to be the biggest draw for them. Some of them are very precise in what they are looking for. Some only publish stories from the region they are in. Some only want Gay/lesbian/transgender stories. Some are interested in multicultural, some only business. You get the idea. So after spending hours on reading the latest copy of 'The Writer's Market' and scouring the internet, you have a surprisingly small list but you are ready to go. Time to get a publisher interested in your book.
Again in my ignorance, I thought this would be a pretty standard thing to do. Not even close. Some publishers want query letters first, some want the complete manuscript, some want only 2-5 chapters. Now bear in mind an editor reading your submissions gets pretty angry when you haven't followed their submission guidelines, so you don't want to mess anything up. But the differences continue. Some want your name on each page, the next one may want page numbers, the one after that may want both or neither. I have seen guidelines specifying different font sizes and different spacing. The only thing each one has agreed on so far is the margin size. Now to further confuse the matter, a few editors want a blurb about your book, like the back cover. Some have said a summary under five hundred words. Another asked for a five page synopsis.
This all makes for a bewildering time trying to get everything right for each editor at the different publishing houses. You would think there would be an industry standard, so you could get a package ready to send it out to a few publishers easily. (Oh I didn't mention some publishers accept manuscripts if they are the only ones you send it to, others are okay with multiple submissions) Alas, there is no rhyme or reason. Now please don't misunderstand me, that is not a complaint. It is just the way things are and there may even be some great reasons behind it, that as a writer I am not privy to. I am just sharing on how much time is really spent on writing and how much time is spent untangling the red tape for new authors.
When you send it out, most places will have a brief list on response times. So let's say they ask for a query letter first. You can normally expect a response in four to six weeks. Then if they like the letter and you send the complete book, you can expect another three months waiting time before hearing back from them. Lastly, lets say you are incredibly blessed and they agree to print your novel. You can expect to wait from one year to eighteen months before it is published.
So in summation, it's hard work trying to get something published. I have not even started about getting your name known, book trailers, blog tours, marketing, etc. Those will be other posts along the way. But in the mean time, as frustrating as it can be, as crazy as it can be, it is still one of the most exciting times of my life and I wouldn't trade it at all.