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

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