Monday, January 29, 2007
By Robyn Whyte
In my case, it would be the Great Canadian Novel. But we are not all from the frosted North where the temperature plus windchill only equalled out to -26 Celcius today. I think I have frostbite on my cheeks still. I thought it was time for me to give insight into the process of pursuing publication.
So you want to be a noveliest? I hate to be the one to break the news to you. So has everybody else. Oh, I am not trying to tell you that the world is full of novel writers, just that there are a lot of aspiring novelists. What sets you apart is that you actually finished the book so keep reading. I'm going to tell you what comes after 'The End'.
When I was a very young child, I was at work on novels. It's true! Really. There was the animal pet detective series. Young romance novels. I would once in a while break my silence and show someone my novel or poem or anything creative.
I remember once taking a story to my mom. She read it and then said, "I don't get why you do this. Is this supposed to be funny?" This was followed by a blank stare. It's hard to believe I dedicated my first published novel to my mother, reminiscing like this. So the first rule will be:
Rule One: Don't Show It To Your Mother
Gosh, I wish I knew this remarkable rule then. Too late though.
Step one is to hire an editor.
Heck, don't show it to anyone that may belittle you or correct your spelling out of spite or kindness. Take all your money from whatever the job you're working and hire an editor. You may think that editors will cost a fortune but as you're only asking for an edit, you can go on a site like Guru.com and post a job for someone to edit your novel. You would be absolutely shocked how many talented people work from a site like this and will edit your novel for something on a budget.
You will not believe what a difference an editor can make. They can make a problematic spot in a novel disappear. They can make your first chapter sparkle all in collaboration. It's an investment.
Rule Two: Don't Read: How to make query letters books
Seriously, do not read the query letter books. About two years ago, I was treated to a letter where an author had gone with the preachy, Hollywood template. She wrote about her novel like it is a fast-paced book. I pointed out that nobody was going to read this because they'd think it was uh...I didn't have words. It was terrible but I'm not a gal who likes to hurt feelings.
The best way to settle on a formula for a query letter is by sticking to the three paragraph letter. If you can't descibe your book succinctly in a one pager, chances are nobody is going to read it. Don't make it flashy or exciting. Instead, work on describing your novel. Publishing houses want to know how long your manuscript is. What is your manuscript like? What are your credits as an author? Do you think you will be able to market your novel? What are you willing to do to market your novel?
Stick to the basics. Make your paragraphs short and targeted at someone who doesn't have a lot of time.
Rule Three: Don't believe friends who say their friend is an editor and probably can publish your book tomorrow
I mention rule three because recently it happened to me. I was just minding my own business, cleaning the faces of all of my children and going off to visit a friend for an improptu pizza night. Suddenly, my friend introduced me to her friend who had not completed a book but wanted to complete a book on holistic medicine. It turned out pizza night was a segue into somehow me doing something for her. I just smiled and nodded as she talked about it. I really don't think anybody makes decisions in their personal time about their professional lives.
Go to the library and write out the names of interesting publishing houses. Supplement these names by the ones online. Some of the listing are very specific as to what they want in terms of attached pages. Make notes.
Rule Four: Don't give up
Persist. You have to realize by enduring as in submitting over and over again, you have something that some of the other budding novelists don't and that is determination. As well, you probably have stamps and money for envelopes. Both determination and money are good things when pursuing your lifelong dream to get your book published.
Good luck. Don't forget any of the rules and you're well on your way.
Robyn Whyte is the CEO of a seriously, independent press named Stargazer Press. Come stop by http://www.stargazerpress.com and read the first 13 pages of Kate Rizor's novel The Governor's Wife.
Kids, see Bitter Tastes by V.B. Rosendahl, a Virginia author.
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