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Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What Doesn't Happen When You Sign a Book Deal

This is my take on a blog by Addie Zierman, who appeared as a guest on Rachelle Gardner's Books and Such column.  Thanks, Addie, for your wisdom!

A writer spends years researching and writing, then rewriting a piece.  After three drafts he gives it to a Beta reader - maybe two or three.  He trusts these people - he knows them well - to make insightful suggestions about continuity, character development, time jumps, and voice.  He might or might not pay them.

The writer makes more changes.

Then he hires a line editor.  This editor is entirely objective, going over each comma and paragraph change, each verb tense and fact, with a magnifying glass.

The writer makes more changes.

He develops a query letter to a literary agent who specializes in his genre and is seeking new clients (maybe two a year).  The query might take months to develop.  It must have necessary elements but fit into one page. There may also be submission requirements for the agent, such as a proposal, which includes a marketing plan, chapter outlines, sample chapters, etc.  There go another few months.

The writer must have an agent in order to get published by one of the "big six" (or is it now five?). In order to get an agent, he must have sold a considerable amount of material.  And in order to sell a considerable amount of material, he usually needs an agent.  Ever heard of the book, Catch 22?

The writer submits his one-page query and waits...and waits.  An answer may take eight weeks to come back, if one comes back at all.  The response might be one line:  "We regret that your project is not suitable for our agency at this time."  For the lionhearted writer, this form of rejection can occur up to 100 times.  If he's lucky enough to get a response that reads, "We are interested in reading the first 50 (or 100) pages; please submit," he does so and waits...and waits. Usually with the same result, if he's a nobody.

But the writer hasn't been sitting around wringing his hands or relaxing with a cool one.  He's been developing a "platform."   The "platform" is crucial for a nonfiction writer, since he needs a following to be considered an "expert" in the field about which he's writing.  A "following" is loosely around 100,000 people subscribing to the writer's Twitter or Facebook account, blog, or website.  This assumes the writer is either a famous person or a national spokesperson.

In the case of fiction, a "following" can be garnered if the writer self-publishes and gathers 100,000 buyers on the internet.  Traditional publishers usually sit up and take notice, a la Shades of Gray.

While developing a "platform," the writer should be working on the second book in his series.  That's right...series!  The same genre, some of the same characters, same tone.  If  the writer is lucky enough to get a traditional publisher through a literary agent (who will take 15% after the writer has made back his advance from the publisher), he must produce a book a year.

One way or another the writer (wouldn't you agree by now he's a lunatic?) is determined to publish - through a traditional book deal, through self-publishing, through a vanity or a hybrid press (kicking in some money for formatting, design, and buy-back of the finished product).

Finally the miracle of birth!  The writer holds the newborn in his hands.  Euphoria overcomes him.  A book of his own!  It's wonderful - for about two minutes.

It means marketing, social media promotion, more editing, deadlines, accounting, and self-doubt.  He hides the negative reviews and goes on.  After all, he's a legitimate writer now, right?

What publication won't do is make him a celebrity if he sells the number he'd hoped, or a failure if he doesn't.  It won't change his insides, if he was broken before he bared his soul.

The writer is the same person who sat down at a blank computer screen and began the long journey to find the right words to convey his vision.  He may now be able to distill and inspire, but the world will take notice only for a second - or not.

What the world will do is continue to revolve around the moments away from the computer, the moments with the people who motivate and refresh him and inspire him to return to the blank screen.

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