Every day, literally, someone asks me this question…
“So, when are we going to get to read your book?”
I’m tempted to print out a bunch of copies and start selling them from the trunk of my car (or just do an ebook, which would cut my production cost, right?) because I WANT people to read it. Oh, how I want people to read it!
But that? Isn’t how this whole publishing process works. And as it stands right now? I’d still like to see a book of mine traditionally published… before I resort to the trunk-selling method. (Which very well might end up happening. Stay tuned, y’all — I’ll give you my GPS coordinates when the trunk is full and ready!)
I’ve been learning about this process as I’ve been going through it, and for those who are wondering when they’re going to get to read my book, I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned. (Friends who know more than I do — please correct me if I’m getting this wrong!)
1. Write a book. That’s right — write the whole thing. And read it. And revise it. And read it again. And keep on correcting it. Until you don’t think there’s anything more you can do to it because it’s just about as perfect as it’s ever going to get. Then, read it again. And keep on making it better…
2. Convince an agent that they should represent you. In order to do this, you’re going to have to submit part of your manuscript (and the lengths they request differ), along with assorted other documents like a query letter, chapter synopsis, book overview, and your complete life history, including undeniable proof that 50,000 people will be lined up outside every bookstore in America on the day that your book goes “live” so that they can own the novel that Jennifer Faulk wrote. (And again, each agent wants a different set of documents, of varying lengths and information contained. Except for that last one, because they ALL want to hear that, and who can blame them?)
3. Rejoice that you have an agent… then, get right back to work. I’m not yet at this stage of the game, but I’m told that if/when you get an agent, your work is still just starting. While an agent will shop your book to publishing houses (and they alone seem to have the open door to do this, so you can’t really bypass getting an agent), the work still sits on your shoulders when it comes to marketing your work, setting up your platform, and convincing the world that your book is worth reading.
From there? I think it’s just more of the same. And until the day when you wake up and you’re Karen Kingsbury (or, in the secular market, Nora Roberts) and you sell books simply based on your name, reputation, and following alone, it’s much of the same work. And, hey, even Karen Kingsbury may sell books out of the trunk of her car! (I doubt it, but times are tough, y’all.)
As we’ve been reading up on this and studying up on this process (and by “we,” I’m including Wes, who is just about as determined to make publication happen as I am — he’s so great!), we’ve been weighing the pros and cons of self-publishing, which bypasses a lot of the query/submission work but includes MORE of the marketing/platform work, without any guarantee of any success and a slim possibility of making any real profit since I can’t sell as many books as a real publishing house. (And without the benefit of editors, graphic artists, marketing staff, and name alone that traditional publishing offers — wow, it’s a gamble to put your work out there, straight from your hands to the world. What if it’s truly awful? You’ll have that little piece of junk out there forever, with your name right on it for every traditional publisher from here on out to see. Eeek!)
This is probably the most confusing and poorly written blog post I’ve ever written (ironically enough), but I hope it clarifies this process that we’re going through a little more for those who are asking. I feel more clarity… even if it looks like I’m just more confused. Which, you know, I sometimes am as I’m elbow deep in all of this.
I’m not losing hope, though, because since completing my first book last November, I’ve written two more complete novels… and I honestly think they’re much better than the first. I realize that I’m not without options — that I can lay the first aside, pursue these others, or just keep on working towards being a better novelist, knowing that surely, after another forty years or so, I’ll be writing something that an agent might be interested in.
But as I told Wes (who again, has been AWESOME in all of this), if I enjoy writing these books and consider it a joy to do that, even without traditional publication… well, then, hasn’t it been a success? Hasn’t my time been well spent? I would like to think so.
And, who knows? Maybe one day you’ll be able to finally READ THAT BOOK. (Let’s hope, friends!)