Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to Become a Published Author; Part 1

    Since my first novel is coming out in less than twenty-five days, I thought it might be fun to share the journey I went through.  It's taken a lot of work to get where I am. 

    I started keeping a journal over nine years ago.  Little did I know, six years later, that journal would be my lifeline to a time so altering, I'd tried pushing it out of my mind.  But through my own words, my own struggles, I saw a new part of myself.  I found the joy and happiness--the healing--that miraculously came in the year after my son died.
    I kept thinking how much a book like that would have helped me earlier, right after my loss; it was sad because at the time I'd only found things written by doctors and therapists.  So, from the encouragement or my brother and two good friends, I decided to make small grammatical revisions and try to find a publisher.  




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    Now, finding a publisher IS NOT easy.  I went through several market guides.  I visited www.yellowpages.com and called every single listed publisher in my state.  I knew I'd meet a ton of great people, but what I didn't realize is how many authors are self-published and listed as having publishing companies.  Through this process, that single day of phone calls helped me more than anything prior to it.
    I met a self-published cook who sold over a million copies of her cookbook.  A lady who'd been to Africa had sold over 50,000 copies of her novel about photography.  I met a man who knew how to write AND make bullets during the Apocalypse.  I even talked with an author's wife--her husband wrote "The Christmas Box."  (I had no idea what a big deal that was at the time and we just shot the bull like it was nothing.)
    After calling over seventy people, and sending several queries, I found two publishers who were interested.  One had never published a memoir or a journal before, but felt drawn to my cause and my little boy who had died.  
    The other publisher wanted me to remove "damn" and replace it with "dang."  I kindly declined the small publisher who had never released a memoir, and I almost signed with the straight-laced bigger company.  
    I was so close, but the thought of my treasured journal reading, "Dang it, my son died," was too much for me.
    I rejected their offer as well and continued on with little luck.     
    Several bigger publishers said I needed a platform before they'd even consider my work.  So, another part of the process began. 

    I'll share part 2 tomorrow.  On a side note, would you have changed "damn" to "dang" if it meant you'd be a published author?