Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Step Two: The Publishing Maze


So my book HOW I GREW UP (yes, once again, I am shamelessly promoting it) was released on October 24, 2013 (I think). It’s been nice to hear from some people that they’ve bought it, read it, or bought it and read it, and were glad they did. (I’ve learned e-books can be shared, and I’ve always been a great believer in lending and borrowing print books!). The mother of a former student stopped me in the supermarket yesterday morning and told me she read it and loved it, and has lent it to her sister. A few days ago I had a lovely Facebook message from a young man who is a professional musical theater performer and graduate of the high school where I work who said many nice things about it.

When I wrote HOW I GREW UP, I wrote it because I felt it was a story that had needed to be told for decades. I wrote it for my friend Anita. I wrote it for me. One of the first people who read it was a woman who had been a close friend of Anita’s, and it held a very special meaning for her. She had been in college when the tragedy took place, and reliving what I imagined Anita had gone through was cathartic for her. I’m sure every reader reacts somewhat differently.

I wrote it quickly, in about four months, often spending long hours at the computer. Now that it’s in print, I’d like for more people to read it. It has a strong message. I re-read it recently, and was pleased to find it is a good read. Even though I’d put it aside for a short time after I finished it, and then went back and polished it, at that time I was still too close to be objective. I learned a lot about the craft of writing by writing it, and about my weaknesses that needed addressing. And about my strengths that I could build on.

You have this book, this manuscript that’s a little like giving birth. What next? With HOW I GREW UP I decided I wanted to see it in print while I was still around, so I went to a Print on Demand company and paid them to get it into print and available to buyers for me. It’s not exactly “self publishing” ... Virtual Bookworm had three editors review my manuscript before they agreed to publish it, and their fee was very reasonable.

They did not market the book, which is the rest of the story. The guy who wrote the enormously successful book CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL submitted his manuscript 144 times before he found a publishing company that accepted the book. And then it was on the New York Times Best Seller List forever. Well, for a very long time, anyway. Apparently, if you have a marketing plan for your book, at least some publishers will look more favorably on what you have to offer. And apparently non-fiction books are a better bet for a publishing house than fiction (except for science fiction, which is very popular).

ELI’S HEART is almost ready for submission or publication, one way or the other. I’d like to try to see if I can find a publishing house that will look at it, but I’m not sure I’m up for 144 rejection letters. I have this book, “Writer’s Market 2014” that has page after page of publishing houses, many of which will not even look at a manuscript unless it’s submitted by an agent. Many of which publish ONLY non-fiction. Being a published author is very satisfying. Being a RECOGNIZED published author is something else entirely.

I’m beginning to understand that being an author isn’t dissimilar to being a performer. You have to be willing to promote yourself, and you have to believe what you have to offer is something people will find worth reading. And, as in the performance world where there are thousands of gifted performers but relatively few who “make it,” there are many thousands of authors who would like to be published. It’s all new to me, and a little scary. I like my second novel. ELI’S HEART has a good message and a strong story. I want to see it in print.

Wish me luck. Advice and suggestions welcome!