Monday, March 12, 2012

How to Become a Published Author; Part 1

    Since my second novel--an epic YA Fantasy--is coming out in less than a week, I thought it might be fun to share the journey I went through to get this book published.  It's taken a lot of work to get where I am. 

    Zeke died in 2003.  The Scribe had a very hard time dealing with the loss.  As she got older, she simply couldn't understand why her little brother was gone.  So, one day, I sat down and started telling her a story about dragons, mermaids, Rentans, Thenians--horrors only the oceans of another world could know.  "Zeke had to leave to find his one true love," I said.  
    "Too bad he fell for a shape shifting witch," the Scribe said. "That's why I went deep into the ocean to save him!" 
    I nodded.  She went through so many adventures just to get her brother back.  It started as a fun story to distract her, 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 after my son died.

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    I wrote everything down and dreamed about getting it published.  I rewrote the book a total of twelve times.  It's been edited by four different editors over the years.  It's gone from 140,000 to 83,000 words.  
    I honestly thought, it would just be fun to have for my family, until a few of the Scribe's friends got ahold of the book.  They wouldn't put it down!  So, from the encouragement of my brother, mother, two good friends and Cade, in 2010 I decided to try finding a publisher for it as well as The Golden Sky (my book that was published in 2011).


    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 in The Golden Sky and one who wanted more information about The Sword of Senack and the books coming after it.  
    I decided on a course for The Golden Sky, but was still searching out a home for my fantasy.  I sent a requested outline for the Mer-son Cycle (since The Sword of Senack is the first of four books).  I got a strange reply from the small publisher.  "We're releasing a book with ideas just like this series in 2013.  After much thought, we'll have to pass on The Mer-son Cycle.  Best Regards." 
    It probably sounds silly, but I'm still unsure of what to think about that response.  It does make me happy my book is coming out before theirs--since they have every detail of my story.
  
    I sent more queries after that. 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.