I’ve heard it said that everybody has a book in them. It just needs to be let out they say. What I didn’t know was that a large percentage of everybody has gone ahead and written one. That’s certainly how it feels.
I’m willing to wager that my misconceptions about writing a book were not at all unusual. You see I thought the hard part would be writing it. And don’t get me wrong, it was both time consuming and at times exasperating. But writing the book was a walk in the park compared to trying to get it printed.
My book didn’t start as a book. It started as a bit of fun with the kids. There are no better brainstormers in the world than children. They are not afraid to be silly. The idea for ‘The Disgusting Superheroes’ was born in one such session. Over the following months I would write a chapter now and again and bring it to my children (they like to be referred to as editors now) to cast an eye and give their verdict and desired direction.
After ten or so chapters I went it alone and finished the book in a couple of weeks. It was like the story was already told and I just had to write it down. I presented the finished product to my editors (children) and was delighted when they both read the full manuscript in one sitting. Both enjoyed it and returned their copy with numerous notes added. They were taking their role very seriously and the manuscript benefitted greatly from it. Family and friends also proof read which was great.
I always thought I might write a book and while this one is middle grade fiction rather than an adults book, I was chuffed. Surely now all I had to do was bang it off and wait for the cheque? Not exactly. It turns out a lot of thought is required on the next steps. You can go directly to a publisher. There are a few that accept manuscripts direct from the public. I did this and received positive feedback as well as one publisher taking extra time to consider. They eventually declined but I took much solace from the fact that they had taken it seriously.
Only at this stage did I do proper research on getting published. Of course I should have done this first. It seems that the best way to get published is by getting a literary agent. The best comparison to trying to get a literary agent I can think of is trying to get into a V.I.P area of a posh nightclub when you’re an eighteen year old male with no connections. It might happen, but not often.
To approach a literary agent you must ‘query’ them. The problem is they all want to be ‘queried’ in different ways (don’t we all). Some want two chapters and a summary, others want a full manuscript, the next guy wants 100 pages and so on. There seems to be no end to the slight differences they require. Most make it clear that they will ignore anything that doesn’t fit their strict criteria. They also ask that you let them know if another agent has expressed an interest. Having your cake and eating it comes to mind.
This situation is clearly a direct result of supply and demand. There are a lot of people writing books and a finite number of agents/publishers. Being a budding author is like being a Chinese man looking for a spouse. There are too many of us and too few of them.
A number of literary agents have been very complimentary but none have bitten thus far. I’m somewhat heartened by stories of some of the great authors being refused for years. I’m sure many of the not so great ones have been refused too though.
I have been offered publishing on a part author contribution contract. The more I read about this type of arrangement the more wary I become. This is basically self-publishing. Maybe if I didn’t have a job and three kids. The workload and chances of success make this unattractive. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in my book. But I know I though the first article I ever wrote was great all those years ago when it was written. I don’t think it’s great now. It might be like that. I’ll keep it in my back pocket and move on to something else. I’ve found a hobby.
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