Publishing Process for New Authors

I may have unintentionally deceived some of you with my previous blog entry. I do not currently have anything lined up as far as publishing goes. That process begins when you have not just a complete first draft, but a complete fourth or fifth draft, or however many drafts it takes to turn the manuscript into a polished, sellable book.

I’m currently on page 386 of my first draft, and I’m planning on wrapping things up around 450 pages…if the story wants to wrap up that soon, that is. My writing rarely turns out exactly as I think it will, but that’s the subject of another blog post.

It has taken me nearly seven months of writing evenings, weekends, and every spare minute I can to get to 386 pages. Yes, much of that time has been spent climbing the steep hill that was my learning curve at the outset of my writing career, but the point is that writing takes a lot of time. If I’m to be realistic, I probably won’t be done with my first draft for several weeks. My list of planned edits is rather large, so those will take at least another month or two, and will only be that fast because I’m a much better editor than writer.

All of this tedious information means that the process will begin here in a few months. I’m shooting for late September.

The first step in the process is querying a literary agent who represents your genre and is open to new clients. Many new authors don’t seem to care who their agent is as long as they are reportedly a real person. I, however, have my heart set on a select few agents (or agencies) who will remain nameless for now, because I want them all for myself. I’m probably setting myself up for disappointment since the statistical odds of securing a deal with any one agent sit around 3% (according to the blog of one of the agents I am stalking), but I’m going for them anyways.  I’ll update you when I submit my work to them.

When I’ve found a good agent to represent me, the second step in the publishing process will be to go through more rounds of editing based on my agent’s suggestions (a very important step, I feel). The agent then presents the book to publishers that she/he is familiar with, and hopefully before too long we will have signed a contract with a publisher that will be willing to not only print my book, but help me market it and get the word out that it’s awesome. Then the editor from the publishing house will help me through another few rounds of edits.

From what I have read/heard, that’s when the waiting happens. I’m not positive why there is such a long wait between finishing a final manuscript and the book hitting shelves, but “the Internet” says that there is, so it must be true. I plan to fill the interlude with awesome marketing to help my book sell, but most likely I’ll be writing the second book in my spare time, much like I wrote the first.

Oh and just to make sure you don’t get the wrong idea about what authors typically get paid, the interwebs also say that the average advance for a debut novel is somewhere around $5,000. If you do the math (and I did, I promise), I’ll be making about $1/hour if all I receive is the advance. I intend to sell WAY more than that, but selling the first book is far from having “made it” for most authors. I’ll be keeping my day job, for now.

And there you have it! That’s the summary of what I know about the publishing industry and my road to becoming a published author. I’m not sure why the prospect of doing all of this work just to receive $1/hr in compensation excites me, but it does. This is the first time that I’ve been one hundred percent invested and excited about something I’m producing, and I love it. I think you’re going to like it too. I can’t wait for you to read my books and tell me what you think.

Now back to the book. Work work.

-Scott

Initiation

I’m Scott. I write novels. Fantasy novels.

Soon, I’ll be finished with my first complete work, and I’ll put a sample up for everyone to (hopefully) enjoy.

I’ll also do my best to document the ups and downs that accompany the process of writing, becoming a better writer, seeking an agent, being published, and doing everything possible to build a permanent home in the coveted locale known as the “bestseller list”.

So. Why fantasy? I’ve been asked this question more than once, and gotten enough strange looks to feel that an explanation is warranted. I don’t see why people are so surprised, really. I’m a mechanical engineer by profession for Pete’s sake, you’d think that a little introversion would be expected (note: not as many engineers/scientists are main-stream “geeks” as you would think).

Anyways, people think I’m a whole new flavor of weird when they hear that I write fantasy novels. Unless I tell them that my book is like Harry Potter. It’s not, really, other than that it has people in it and is written in English, but it gets people to stop staring at me.

The real reason that I write fantasy, besides the fact that I have a several-decades long addiction to the genre, is that in fantasy, anything is possible.

“No kidding,” I hear you say. That’s the point of fantasy, to be able to make up whatever awesome gobbledygook you want, right? Sort of, but not for the reasons that might immediately come to mind.

Authors like David Eddings, Robert Jordan, L.E. Modesitt Jr., Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Brad Thor (I know he writes thrillers, but I had to include him), and J.K. Rowling have achieved something incredible. They have helped enlighten and improve humankind in a way that I believe is truly unique to fantasy, and I want to contribute as well.

Yes, other genres, both fiction and non-fiction, can be wonderful. They discuss great themes, have great stories. We can be better people for reading (some of) them.

But fantasy doesn’t just preach or relate a life lesson. It lets you live it, breathe it, and adopt it as your own in a safe environment, removed from the pressures and norms of our own world. And herein lies the true power of fantasy fiction: I believe that works of fantasy come to be so powerful because it allows the author a safe place to bare their soul and truly express not only their ideas, but the core of their beings. Every little part of their novels comes from within.

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why I write fantasy. I don’t deny that I write with entertainment in mind, but my novels are also my safe place where I can show you who I am, more intimately than through any other method (that I’m willing to engage in). I bare a piece of my soul on every page that I write and meticulously edit.

-Scott