Diving In(to the World of Publishing)

… or more like just getting my feet wet.

When I brought my gorgeous, newly-printed MS with me to my Teen Writer’s Club meeting, I immediately got asked the ultimate question: “Do you think you’re going to publish it?”

My honest response was “Maybe. I don’t really know.”

But I’ve been thinking… and I at least want to see how hard it would be.

So.  Yesterday I did something radical.  I Googled “Literary Agents.”

For those of you who aren’t savvy with Publishing-World Lingo… An Agent is someone who agrees to represent your book to publishers.  They will get your book “published” for you and will take a cut from the royalties if it sells.  They basically guide you through the process, so a lot of people start their publishing journey by finding an agent. An alternative method is to submit queries directly to a publisher, but there’s some downsides to this.

So, I hit “Search” and was instantly overwhelmed.  Today, however, I found a cool site called AgentQuery.  I then opened a Google Spreadsheet and started filling in some info.  After about two hours of work, I have ten agents listed, complete with their full name, agency, email, and what they require when you send in a query.  Some only want a query.  Some also want a synopsis.  Some want the first ten pages, or the first three chapters.  It varies from agency to agency or even agent to agent, so now I have this nifty spreadsheet with the first ten agents I will query to.

Now.

I can hear the objections forming in your minds.  They’re practically bursting out your ears.

BETH!  I don’t understand!  Have you even written a query or synopsis yet?  I thought you were still editing your MS?  I thought you hadn’t even submitted to Beta Readers yet?  I thought you were writing another book in November?   I thought – ?

You thought correctly.

So, perhaps I have the cart before the horse a bit.  HOWEVER.  Part of me just wanted to know how hard it would be to find some agents that would be query-worthy.

And it turns out that it’s not super easy.  But it’s not super hard either.  Two hours for ten agents is do-able, right?

In that case, why not try to get published?  What do I have to lose?  (Okay, a lot of time and effort, but we won’t talk about that.)

Here’s some random lessons I’ve learned so far:

Terms –

Magical Realism: where reality is infused with magic in such a way that it is normal.  According to the Goodreads definition, “The story explains these magical elements as normal occurrences, presented in a straightforward manner that places the “real” and the “fantastic” in the same stream of thought. ”  This would be different from books like Harry Potter, where the magic happens in this world but is hidden from most people.

Urban Fantasy: where the magic happens in this world.  I always assumed the opposite of High Fantasy was Low Fantasy.  Acutually, guys, it’s Urban Fantasy.  Ooops.  (Harry Potter would be Urban Fantasy; LOTR, Narnia, and Eragon are all High Fantasy.)

Boutique Agency.  Also, in typing out those words, I learned that Boutique has two u‘s in it.  Who knew?  Anyways, while I couldn’t find a proper definition, I kindof gathered that it is a fancy way of saying a “small agency.”  Let’s just say that the agencies who claimed to be “Boutique” tended to have three agents or less.

Important Stuffs –

The first 10 pages need to be really, really good.  I found that a lot of agents request the first 10 pages with the query.  (Others ask for the first 3 chapters, or sometimes even the first 50 pages.  But the first “10 pages” seemed to be the most popular.

Don’t expect a response to emailed queries.  It’s just not gonna happen.

Expect a lot of silence.  And maybe some rejection.  But mostly just crickets chirping in the background.  And also lots of waiting.  Most agents’ websites say that the wait time is anything from four weeks to about two months.  So lots and lots and lots of waiting.  Oh, and if they come back and request a partial, then you wait another few weeks/months.  And if they request a full MS, then it’s a few more weeks.  And then if they agree to represent you, it’s more months before they find you a publisher.  And more waiting after that.  Waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting.

I’m not sure there was really a point to all of this.

Okay, here we go… THE POINT TO ALL OF THIS:

Yes, it’s a lot of work to try to get something published.  It’s a long road with a lot of steps and a ton of time and effort.  But it’s NOT impossible, and it’s not too hard to get started.  So if you’ve got a great MS, all it takes to get yourself started is a simple Google search.

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