Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christa's publisher -- not

photo by L Dyck

Christa was proud of her story. She believed it was her best work; she believed it was important; she believed it would be easy to find a publisher.

But I have to find the right publisher, she told herself. 

Finding the right publisher required Christa to do some detective work. She poured over the books in her home library and those at her local library and bookstore.  She sought out books that were similar to her own -- in subject matter and theme. Once found, she recorded the publisher's name and web site in a small notebook she carried. She bought Quill and Quire and read reviews of other books newly released by other publishers. 

One publisher stood book cover and type face above the rest. Christa spent hours on their web site. She closely studied their submission guidelines. Christa was advised to query first and then wait six months for a reply.

Christa carefully crafted her query letter and, hoping -- dreaming -- for the best, she sent it to the publisher.

Seven months later, the publisher contacted Christa and asked for three sample chapters.

"Oh, my gosh," she sang. "This is it. They want me."

It was love at first reply. Christa didn't even look at any other publisher. All the books she bought bore her publisher's  logo.

One's good, but more manuscripts will sweeten the deal, she told herself. So Christa revved up her computer and plowed through manuscript after manuscript.

She emailed her publisher and asked...

I have more manuscripts. Can I send them to you?

Her publisher wrote back...

Sure. Why not. Send us a sample...

So Christa sent more pages to the publisher and her dreams grew richer and more vivid. 

Not only will they accept my manuscript but they'll treat me like a rock star, she told herself. They'll send me on an all expenses paid vacation to their province. They'll rent me a room in a five star hotel. They'll give me a VIP tour of their publishing house. They'll see me for what I am -- a valuable prolific author.

A few days before Christmas -- three years after Christa's first contacted them -- her publisher (not) sent her a letter in the mail. It wasn't full of Christmas cheer. 

Thank you for sending us your work but...

Christa's relationship with the publisher was over before it had really started.

I asked Christa if she had any advise for other authors.

She said, "It's okay to get excited if they ask for a sample. But a sample isn't a manuscript. If they ask for a manuscript, it's okay to get even more excited. But a manuscript isn't a contract. Wait until after you've signed the contract to celebrate. But even then things can and do go wrong. Don't get carried way by your dreams. Keep writing and submitting. Don't put all your money on one pony. Submit to more than one publisher, at a time. And remember, just because one publisher sends you a rejection letter doesn't mean another one will."

To date, Christa has yet to sign a publishing contract for any of her novels. When asked if she is still writing, Christa smiled and said, "Yes, of course. Writing is my passion."

When asked if she was still looking for a publisher for her novels, Christa said, "I am working on new projects but I'd never trash my old manuscripts. I believe in them. They are good. I will find a publisher for them. I. Will."

And with an attitude like that, I know she will achieve her goal.

photo by L Dyck

More on publishing...

For me, publishing with a small press was a positive experience. I know working with them took my writing to the next level.

To learn more about this route, read Anne Goodwin's article:  Making Small-Press Publication Work For You

Sharing my author journey...

This week I've been playing detective.

The work of a writers is to write, revise, submit and revise and submit again. But first you need to find those publishers and literary agents who are waiting for your work. That's what I've been doing this week. (And I'm having so much fun.) The mighty Internet makes it possible for me to submit my work to a publisher in Vancouver and literary agents in New York and London. What a wonderful time we live in.
I found these two lists of literary agents very helpful...
USA literary agents
UK literary agents
(Sadly, I didn't find any Canadian literary agents who are interests in representing picture book authors.)
Be sure to carefully research these agents to find your best fit.