Getting published is one of the top woes writers face.
There are so many writerly woes it’s hard to pick just one. Attempting to get published. Most book publishers require writers to have an agent. It can take months, if not years to get an agent. There are many of them out there and too many take too long to respond. The pandemic doesn’t make it any easier. Agents may still be working, but publishers aren’t putting out as many books.
One very talented, very well-organized writer friend has queried forty-five agents in the last few months. Here’s his method.
“People have asked how I’ve manage to keep cranking out agent queries.
The attached screenshot shows my query management spreadsheet. I’ve got the links to each agent, and notes based on their Manuscript Wish List entry (and/or manual checking on the agency’s web page).
I’ve also got a folder on my computer that carries both short and long synopses, short and long queries, a biography, and files of the first chapter, and the first three chapters of the book.
So if the agent’s web page says, “send me a brief query and a sample chapter” I can quickly assemble the package that matches.
Typically, I send out a new query for each rejection. Usually, send queries out in batches. Four tonight, in fact.”
In addition to all these tools, he has a darn good novel to sell. I wish I were that organized.
Besides querying every agent in the business, writers with complete manuscripts, but no agent can participate in a quarterly Twitter pitch. Just sum up your novel, plus hashtags and genre codes in 280 characters, and tweet away. Supposedly there are writers who’ve found agents and editors this way. No one I know. I’ve done it four times. One of my writer girlfriends has done it. The Very Well Organized Writer got a nibble, which amounted to nothing.
Of course, there are options besides traditional publishers.
One is to self-publish your book on Amazon using their Kindle Direct Publishing platform. This route can supposedly lead to many sales, good income, and even contracts with traditional publishers. The learning curve for KDP can be steep, even with instructions from Amazon and YouTube video tutorials. You have to design your own cover, using one of their lame templates or a graphics editing program. You can publish an ebook or a print-on-demand paperback, which has different requirements for covers. You have to publicize your own work like mad. Or you can pay Amazon to publicize it.
I’ve tried KDP with several short ebooks. I’ve made so much money, I’ve lost track. Maybe twenty dollars. Maybe thirty. No book contracts.
Another option is a subscription service, such as Patreon, which is a platform for creators of all kinds, not just writers. Patrons can make monthly or yearly payments to get access to a creator’s material. Kind of like serialized magazine stories in the old days. This can also lead to a good passive income, but as with Amazon, it takes time to build an audience. Patreon is not the only such platform.
Word Press allows its users to sell their material through their website. I’ve yet to master its paid premium content tool.
The only thing I’m going to say about vanity presses, which will gladly publish your book if you pay them, is that I would never use one. My book is better than that. It deserves a publisher that will pay me to publish it.
I have written a novel that I know is good that I want to publish, but I can’t decide what option to choose. I need the money, as well as the “glory.” But none of those options will get me royalties quickly. I don’t necessarily want to get rich, but I want to be able to make a living with something I’ve worked hard to accomplish. Labors of love don’t pay the rent.
“A Home for an Exile’s Heart”