The Behind the Scenes Scoop on How to Publish Traditionally
One of the questions that writers ask me a whole lot is: “What does it take to get published?” or “How do I do this thing called publishing?”
Some of you have heard about the work that we do over in the Writing Gym and the results that we are getting over there. Today, I’m really excited because I get to celebrate two of our amazing Writing Gym Rats–we call them that. It doesn’t sound very nice, but, you know, they’re Gym Rats. They’re working out. They’re working their writing toward publishing, and I’m super excited about this!
First, I want to tell you first about my work with Jim. Jim has been writing this great book. We finished working on it six–or maybe eight– months ago. He’s been working on putting together his package and querying, and we are in negotiations with an agent. I’m super excited!
We’ve gotten some great feedback from this agent, and we’ve gone back and forth a couple of times with revisions on that piece. You may not know this, but sometimes an agent will like a piece of work but will want some changes made. They might say, “I want to represent this, but I need to see a version where Chapter 3 happens before Chapter 1.” And so, in Jim’s case, he has moved some of his chapters around, moved some of his content, and now it’s back in the agent’s hands, which is super exciting! Congratulations, Jim!
While I’m at it, I also want to make a shout-out to Vivian. I’m super excited about this one. Vivian just had–I mean, I can’t even believe I get to announce this–but Vivian just had THREE requests for full manuscripts!
Many of you know that agents will typically ask for five pages, ten pages, fifty pages, a hundred pages. They’re putting their toes in the water, thinking, “Am I interested enough to read the whole thing? Because I don’t want to waste my time.” When you get asked for a full, it’s kind of like going from dating to being engaged. It’s a switch in the investment that the agent has on you. This is an agent saying, “This is interesting enough to me that I’d like to see the whole thing.” And to get THREE requests for a full manuscript within the course of a week or two is just amazing!
It means that Vivian is rocking her querying and her submissions. She and I worked really hard on those submission materials. So, I’m super excited for her.
Not only that, but yesterday, I was chatting with a publisher. As you know, I speak with publishing industry professionals every week, all week. I’m always chatting with someone about what’s going on in the publishing industry. She and I were having a chat about negotiating audiobook contracts: how audiobooks become part of the book deal that you get when you publish and how we can work toward getting better publishing contracts for the people who are in the Writing Gym–those Writing Gym Rats. And over the course of the conversation, she said, “I would love to see some pieces from your writers.”
This happens pretty frequently when I’m speaking with publishers and editors and agents because in the industry, I’m a known entity. People know that the writing that comes out of the Writing Gym is going to be high quality. It’s already going to be ready to go. That doesn’t mean, as we saw in Jim’s case, that they don’t have some changes that they want to make. But it’s going to be polished. It’s going to be ready. It’s not going to be something that someone typed up during NaNoWriMo and decided to send in. It’s going to be way beyond that. It’s going to be ready to be published.
So, anyway, as I was speaking to this woman, she said, “I’d love to see some of the writing that comes out of the Writing Gym,” and I asked her what kinds of pieces are really interesting to her these days. She said, “I’m really interested in environmental pieces these days.” And I said, “Well, I’ve got a story to tell you.”
I told her about the novel that Vivian has been working on and she said, “That sounds amazing! I absolutely love that concept.” I asked, “Can I send you a query and a synopsis?” And she said “I absolutely want to see that.”
So, that’s how things happen in the Writing Gym. It’s sort of like having a matchmaker to find you your mate. Having somebody to help pair you with the right person can be absolutely essential.
Now, look. You can do it on your own. You can go out and write your book and try to revise your book on your own and try to find an agent, but I spend some time trolling around in other people’s groups and listening to the kinds of things that writers are saying, and the things that I hear are: “Agents are jerks.” “Why is it so hard to publish?” “They keep rejecting me. What’s the deal?” “Why are they so snobby?”
I hear all kinds of things like that, and I understand the frustration of trying and trying without positive results. That can be really frustrating, and you might think that the people to whom you’re submitting time and time again are just jerks. You can try to do it on your own. Or you can stop running on that constant treadmill of frustration and find a solution that works.
I’m sure Jim and Vivian would tell you that it feels a whole lot better to alleviate the stress. That it felt a whole lot better to submit and manuscript that they knew was ready to go, with a query that was in tip-top shape, and a good, interesting synopsis. That all the pieces that they needed were in order, and that I could pick up the phone and call these people, that I could talk to them, that I could ask them: “You want to see this synopsis? Would you like to see that query? Are you interested in this book?”
That’s what happens for people who invest in themselves, and in their future.
I want to be really clear here: There are no guarantees. I do not have a magic wand where I can make the people in the publishing industry do what I want them to do. But I am part of the publishing industry, and that makes a huge difference.
Think about the people in your community, whether it’s the fellow parents who drop their kids off to school with you or maybe people your church or your temple or your Rotary Club. Those are the people you know. They are the folks you can call when you need something. They are your people. You want to work with someone who has people she can call.
Now, this isn’t for everyone. This isn’t a magic pill. I’m not going to give you some magic thing that’s going to get your novel to publishable. This is for people who are looking to become the kind of writer who can publish time and time again, who want that publishing career and are committed to doing the work and putting in the time, making the investment in themselves to make that happen.
If that sounds like you, I’d love to have a chat with you. Let’s talk about where you are, where you’d like to go, and how you can get there. Until next time, Happy Writing!