Thoughts on the Publishing Process; an article written by C.M McGuire
This year has been challenging for all of us and I can’t believe it is almost over! (finallyyyy)
Before the New Year begins, I would love to share with all of you this amazing post written by the author of Ironspark, C.M McGuire!
I really hope that many of you find this post encouraging to keep pursuing your publishing dreams this 2021!
So… let’s begin!
That Long and Bumpy Road:
Thoughts on the Publishing Process
Regardless of your preferred genre or writing habits, odds are you share the same dream as the rest of us: walking up to a shelf in a library or bookstore and seeing your story up there on the shelf. It’s not an easy journey, but here are my thoughts on the process of getting there.
Join a society or critique group
In short: Don’t write in a void. Join a group and grow with other writers. For my part, I joined SCBWI, and I have found organizations not only help you grow through frequent and dedicated critique groups, webinars, and workshops; they give you precious opportunities to meet with agents and editors through annual conferences. Similarly, being part of an organization shows a certain level of commitment which elevates you beyond a hobbyist. Were I an editor, I’d associate a member of one of these organizations as someone who’s probably dedicated to their craft and is more likely to have sent me a polished manuscript.
Writers are not, as a general rule, deeply assertive people. Or, if we are, many of us still struggle at the idea of fighting for our own work. If you’re publishing something longer than a short story, this is the very reason you want an agent. Your agent will be the person who fights for you, both to sell your work and ensure that you receive fair terms. If you’re a gamer, think of yourself as the somewhat squishy mage and they’re the tank that looks out for you.
Nobody likes querying. Nobody. How can you parse down your masterpiece into a one-page synopsis and a three-paragraph letter? It’s agonizing, but it helps to consider it from the other side. An agent or editor sees so many of these, they simply don’t have time for a long, drawn-out synopsis from a complete stranger.
Be sure to keep these short and sharp. Your synopsis should succinctly and clearly tell your story and demonstrate the characters and themes that will make it worth reading. Your query letter should include not only your premise but what qualifies you to write this story and why you chose this agent or editor. Form letters are not your friend, and be sure to NEVER query multiple parties in a single email. That tells them you haven’t considered them personally, so they’re less likely to consider you.
Say you decide to go the independent route and self-publish. This isn’t a bad idea. We’re living in a golden age of connection and there are so many options, from Amazon Kindle to Kickstarter and more. The advantages here are that you don’t answer to a publisher, you keep all of your profits, and you can have so much immediate connection.
The downside would be that you also have nobody to back you. All the editing and marketing is on you. If you print it, that’s all out of your pocket. You also have the hurdle of judgement. Readers are pretty discerning. If they’re going to give you money for your work, they want to make sure it’s quality. A book from a publisher will have had other eyes on it. A self-published work could be genius or just so much flotsam and jetsam on the internet. It’s up to you to polish your work and convince them it’s the former.
Let’s say self-publishing is not for you and you go the traditional route. Well, if you get an offer, pat yourself on the back because good job! Just getting there is a big deal and probably came after a lot of angst and rejection. So here’s what to expect after the fact:
Your editing journey has only begun! It’s likely you will go through several more rounds of extensive edits. Content edits will come first. In my case, this took the form of rearranging many of the scenes in Ironspark. There were probably three rounds of this, followed by copyedits, in which every error or typo that arose from the edits was subsequently scrubbed.
Prepare to market. Even if you’ve been given every reason to believe you can leave it in the hands of the professionals, you never know what can go wrong with the plan or what new opportunities will arise. Seek out your demographic through events and social media and market yourself like crazy.
Start on the next one. Maybe your book is a bestseller. Maybe it’s a total flop. Either way, the next book you write will probably be an anxiety-ridden “trunk story”, riddled with your own insecurities. How could it not be. You just published a book! What if the next one isn’t as good? Well, the sooner you get this trunk story written and stashed in the trunk in the attic, the sooner you can move on to your next masterpiece.
What if nothing works?
Perhaps the greatest fear is none of this working. You self publish and nobody buys your book. You can’t secure an agent or an editor. Should you walk away from writing forever?
Of course not! Keep in mind, we as humans do not tell stories for the sake of money or fame. The most important thing to remember as the end of the day is that you love this, and remember why you love stories forever. Even if you only write them for you, keep writing. The industry is a fickle playground of trends and competition, but no amount of struggle can stop you from writing on.
You can find C.M McGuire over at the following social media accounts!
What do you think now about the publishing process?
Was this process what you expected?
I would love to know more about any dream of yours that you feel motivated enough to pursue!