Read more Let’s Write publishing tips in Andi’s Attic >>
Start with 1-The Journey Begins >>
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 or taken a young writer’s writing course and learned how to apply what you’ve learned to your story.
Memory Road Again
Again, I must take you back a few years. Below is what one of my dearly beloved stories looked like when I was a young teen, say 14 or 15, 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 Mr. Gutenberg invented 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 realistic ways to get your story turned into a real book you can hold in your hand, share with others, and maybe even sell. Taking up from where I left off yesterday, the next step is . . .
The Great Publisher Hunt
4. Find a publishing company who might be interested in your book. This is comparable to . . .
- winning the lottery or
- finding the lost Ark of the Covenant.
Sadly, it is difficult and nearly impossible these days. It was pretty tough 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? Keep reading . . .
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 and try to get him as excited about your project as you are. Then the big question. 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! There is a downside, of course. Writers’ conferences are not cheap to attend. Strike Two.
6. And yet another 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, one who is with a publisher that 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!
The next post (part 3) explains what happens after a publisher accepts your manuscript for publishing. If you think your troubles are over (“I won the lottery!”), think again . . .
My First Rejection Letter
Enjoy my first (of many) rejection letters. Note to you all: When you have received a “no thanks” email or letter from a publisher, you have joined an elite group. The “I’m a serious wannabe author.” Your first rejection letter is actually a badge of honor (though it didn’t feel like it at the time). Also enjoy an image of a bunch of publishers I submitted to, back in the day when a writer submitted via snail mail.