Not for the Faint of Heart

Many would-be writers have asked me how to break into publishing. I’m certainly no expert, since this is my first book and it’s self-published, but I have gleaned a few things. Mostly that publishing isn’t for wimps.

The statistics are grim. Less than 3% of books published each year come from first-time authors. Publishing is a business and no one wants to take a risk on an unknown. Thousands of manuscripts each month end up in slush piles in offices across the country; unsolicited ones are tossed without being opened.

So how do you become solicited? You have to meet the editors. Networking is the key and writers’ conferences are the places to network, while also learning more about the craft. You’ll meet Acquisitions Editors and have one minute to give your pitch, hoping to receive the much-sought-after business card, the green light to send your book proposal.

At a huge conference I attended, about forty round tables dotted the room, each hosted by one editor. Conferees pitched their ideas during lunch. It was quite intimidating. I put my heart into my spiel, applying all the principles I’d learned in my workshops. I felt giddy when I was handed a business card and asked to submit my proposal. The guy seated next to me whispered in my ear afterward, “That was masterful.”

Finally, someone would read my writing! That publishing house had my first 30 pages for 10 months before it was rejected – very nicely and with a great deal of encouragement, I might add. I figured the rejection was a rite of passage I needed to go through if I was ever going to become an author. I still had a long road ahead of me. Stay tuned for Part Two: The Perils of Publishing.

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