Saturday, October 25, 2008

Meet The Author

Fall 2005.

So, here I was, with my dandy new finished novel. All typed up and nowhere to go. When you think ‘finished novel’ in your head, the words ‘must publish’ jump into your mind really quick.

Through talking with my relatives about the book that I had finished, I learned from one of them that an author lived just across the street from them. Frantically, I made the necessary arrangements to meet this complete stranger. We talked on the phone briefly, set a date to meet, and I was on my way. Originally, I would meet her at her house, but, as it was, she was planning on visiting the local fire station to chat with the boys and hand out some free copies of her first book. It wasn’t far from her house, just four houses down.

After some time of meeting the men who protect us, we decided on a conference room upstairs where we could chat about books. Like a newborn dunked in water cold water for the first time, I was flushed with morbid curiosity about the world of the publishing industry and how, in some way, to scoot around it.

This woman loved writing. She showed me a print copy of her book, which I later bought and read. She also had a second book out dedicated to the memory of the people who bravely stood up and helped when the tragic event 9/11 occurred. Both books had to deal with 9/11. But her first book was fiction, dealing with a couple who meet on a plane and whose lives are changed when they marry, move to New York and how they dealt with life after that infamous day.

She told me how she had tried, time again to send out her manuscript to a few publishers, how she wrote query letters and such. Then, finally deciding that she wanted to tender her manuscript to an online publishing website known as Publish America. From the meeting I collected papers detailing how I would submit my manuscript to them and how long it would take to see my book in print. Not very long. As excited as I was, later on I calmed down, discussing this fact with my most trusted friend and first time reader - my girlfriend.

Publish America was not the way to go. There seemed to be no restrain on their selection or approval rate of the ever-growing titles. Later on, I bought some books to educate myself on what the Writers Market is and how the hell do I mitigate through the slush to find the right path for me?

Some magazines, publishers and online publishers accept an average of 5 to 20 unsolicited manuscripts a year. That only leaves a small window for a new writer to break out and let the world know that they exist.

Publish America has an average of 800 accepted authors a year.

That number concerned me. Through more research I found that the royalties were low and that their services are very contradictory in nature.

But, nevertheless, I sat there, talking to this woman, educating myself on the world of publishing and the backdoor that is self-publishing, which is what Publish America basically is. Or, to put it bluntly, a self-publishing service posing as a vanity publish service.

Looking back, it was good that I didn’t go with them. I was overexcited and easy to swoon, even forgetting that I should get paid a fair amount for the work that I had done. Plus, I was trying to peddle a first draft, which is a big no-no when it comes to writing.

If I was going to do anything right, I had to learn some hard lessons along the way.

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