Monday, March 10, 2014

What? You're Still Not Published?

I wasn't sure what to blog about this week until I ran into a dear friend I haven't seen in a while. She kindly asked me how the book was going. Bless her, she didn't even blink when I asked her which one. The follow-up question, isn't it published yet?, is one I've been asked many, many times. 

The thing about writing a book is that -- drum roll please -- it's really, really hard. *cymbal slap* And like most things that are difficult in life, it also takes time. Lots and lots of time.

From the fruition of an idea to the final, polished project, a manuscript can take years to write. Once it's ready, a person who wants to get traditionally published needs to obtain an agent. Every query you send, needs to be personalized and every agent requests something different -- a query only, a query and few first pages, a synopsis... 

I think it took me three months to query a dozen agents. I most likely will be done with the first draft of my WIP by the time I've queried every agent I want for my last novel. Also, I like to query in small batches since some agents provide helpful feedback. This lets me fix some things before sending out new queries. (See Querying and Dealing with Rejection) The turn-around time for a response from an agent can be 24 hours (probably less than 1%) four to six weeks, or have a policy of 'if you don't hear from us in eight to twelve weeks, consider us a pass'. 

 Like most writers, I'm balancing family, scheduled employment, writing new words, editing old words, beta reading awesome words, critiquing submissions from my CPs (Critique Partners) in both my writers groups (and I know several writers in three and even four groups), read published books to keep up-to-date on what's currently out there because the more you read, the better writer you'll be, and I *heart* books. Oh and let's squeeze in lunch with a friend and watch an episode of Grey's Anatomy. 

I'm not complaining, it's all par for the course. But it's definitely difficult to explain that you might spend a year on a book and its edits, spend another year querying it and, if there's not interest, you might end up shelving it. My first manuscript has been officially shelved for three years. Hopefully, the project I'm querying now won't end up in the same fate. But if it does, I'll keep on writing.

Since I'm writing this blog, I want to jump on a soapbox for a second. (My post, my rant :)) For all those picture book authors out there, I give you a giant hat tip. I wish I had your talent and ability. I get very annoyed when I hear someone say they're ready to publish the picture book they wrote this morning over a plate of omelets or worse, persons who believe before writing a "real" book they could churn out a few picture books as a bit of a warm up. Writing picture books is VERY hard. And if you don't believe me, check out the jobs the amazing and talented Anna Dewdney held before she was able to write full-time. 

Things that keep me positive? Check this out. :) 

photo credit: Arya Ziai via photopin cc


  1. It's a strange process to explain to anyone outside the bubble, that's for sure. :) And it's not for the faint of heart. Especially querying! I think it's one of the reasons the writing community is so strong. What would we do without each other to discuss all the ups and downs of this journey? I shudder to think! :-) Oh and I LOVE Anna Dewdney. Even more now!

  2. The road to publication is definitely rough. Juggling a full life while writing, editing, and querying is beyond difficult and it's hard for those not doing it to understand. This post was so encouraging!! It's nice to know we as writiers are in this journey together!! :)

  3. Get out of my brain, Marlana! :) I can relate to this post on so many levels, and like Rina said, it's so difficult to explain these things to anyone who's not crazy *coughs* I mean, er, a writer. LOL. It's the love of words and stories that fuels us, regardless of how long the process takes.

  4. Love this post--this process is SO frustrating as much as rewarding. Or perhaps more frustrating, LOL!! Either way, you're a fantastic writer and this journey WILL end very happily!! =D

  5. Thanks for your comments. :) I seriously don't know what I'd do without my fellow writers. I'm inspired, encouraged and supported. *sniff, sniff* Someone get me a tissue! :) *GIANT HUGS*