As a midweek surprise today, I have a guest post by fellow/future author Frank Smith.
A little background: Frank and I met on an Internet discussion board. That is sort of the same way I met my wife but please do not confuse the two...Mrs. Splitter is better looking. He and I quickly found out that we were both of a minority opinion on that board and formed one of those new-fangled Internet friendships via that forum's private messaging system.
Then, one day, I let it slip...or announced...that I had published “The Reluctant.” Frank messaged me and told me that he too was writing a book. We talked about the trials and tribulations of writing and exchanged stories.
Since I am self-published, people think I must be a zealot about “indie” authors. Truthfully, I am not. I believe that having choices is a good thing. I wanted to present the other side of the game and write about trying to get published the traditional way, but since I had never sought to go that route, I had little understanding of the process or the ordeal for the author.
Fortunately for me, I had Frank and I knew he was seeking to be traditionally published. I asked him to do a guest spot and talk about his experiences in trying to get traditionally published and her it is:
I first want to thank Splitter for asking me if I would like write a guest post for his blog. It is a wonderful opportunity for me as it’s my first guest post ever. Let me skip right to the formalities and introduce myself, my name is Frank W. Smith and I am an author. (Hi Frank).
Some of you may know me but I’m sure as of right now many don’t, and do you know why? Because my dang book ‘Wolf Song’, hasn’t been published yet! You can add in sound effects of gnashing teeth and hurried footsteps as I run to check my e-mail every five minutes if you like. It’s kind of a poor-man’s IMAX experience if you do that.
The reason Splitter asked me to post here, other than some unfortunate grainy black and white photos from his college days, is because I decided to try and get my book published by a small publishing house instead of going the independent route.
Now before anyone thinks it is because I feel one is better than the other, let me assure I don’t. Writing a book was childhood dream for me, one that got put on the back burner as I got caught up in this wonderful adventure called life. Now since it was a childhood dream and I must admit I am in my early forties, there were few independent book writers out there. So it was just a choice based on my dreams, that’s it.
I’m assuming that a large part of the people who read Splitter’s great blog are authors themselves. If you aren’t let me just tell you a little secret, there is so much more to do than just write a story nowadays. The first thing I ran into after writing my story, then re-writing it, then having it edited, because my leet grammar skills are on par with a sugared up twelve year olds, then getting it to the beta readers, was to find a publishing house where it would fit in.
So with a wad of cash in hand I set off to a local mega-bookstore and bought the esteemed ‘Writer’s Market’ for the current year. I salivated as I saw the huge listings of publishers and thought, “This will be a piece of cake.”
As I sat and perused the plethora of small publishers I noticed they were very oddly specific about what it was they wanted to print. Non-fiction seemed to be in demand, that was a shame since I went the ever so creative and unique way of making a werewolf vs. vampire story. Damn. Ohhh, young adult would have been a great choice, but I didn’t have it in me to write about the angst of a love triangle between a teen girl, a hundred year old man (CREEPY!) and a half animal (Really CREEPY!). Double Damn.
But it gets even more specific, publishers will ask for manuscripts dealing with only multi-cultural tales or stories exclusively based on a person’s sexual preference and even down to some picking novels based solely on a geographical location. It was insane and my list quickly dwindled to a very few. Triple damn! Right there I promised myself my next book would be about a Korean cross-dressing werewolf who lived in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.
I kid you not; if I did that, I think I would triple the amount of possible publishers. And you know we are all in this for the money, right? I am sure we are all living like rock stars as we drunkenly weave through our day to day business.
Then when you get your small list, you send your baby away and wait for the world to recognize the greatness that resides in your magical fingertips. Well, Sunshine, unfortunately you are going to have to learn a small word with large implications; wait. Yep wait, then wait some more and just for craps and giggles why don’t you wait a little bit more.
Let me tell you about some other of the things listed in the small print of those publisher’s sites. First, once you get through the bewildering array of what any publisher wants you to send in, you will find that they take 4-6 weeks to respond to your query letter. IF they like your query letter and want to read your whole manuscript, they are going to ask for up to another four months, and that’s only if they aren’t running behind. Then when you look even closer at that aggravating small print, you find even smaller print stating; manuscripts may be published up to sixteen months after purchase. Wait...it can take almost two years for my book to come out? The answer is yes, even if that’s not the norm.
Right now, the only thing I want to do is talk about my book. I worked hard on ‘Wolf Song’ and, as you know, it becomes almost like a child to you. It’s not just a book about modern-day werewolves living in New York City and struggling against the overwhelming fury the vampire All-Father has unleashed against them. It’s a great book, a book for adults with real emotions and awe inspiring action, betrayal, redemption oh and so much action I contractually have to list it twice.
This waiting thing is difficult and trying. Can you imagine telling a parent they couldn’t show you their baby’s photos until he/she was two? While many of us would be thankful and snicker slightly, the poor parent’s head would explode in a fine mist of red frustration. Remember, no one can review your book, and talking about it to people who haven’t read it is like telling someone who is an over eater there’s a Boston cream pie in the fridge but they can’t have it. They have to wait two years.
Now, I am a man that believes in preparing for everything, hence a closet full of useless gadgets and turnip twaddlers, (sorry for the Bloom County reference that most under thirty five won’t get) that is stuffed so full it threatens to avalanche on the next person to open it.
So while I am hoping to get a small publisher, I’m not counting on it. Quietly, I have gotten a book cover done, have the story formatted and ready to go. I can get my ISBN, ASIN and any other vague acronyms a book site might need or want in a moment’s notice.
Next time, if our esteemed Mr. Splitter deems there will be a next time, or if he does something stupid again in camera range, I can talk about the odd process of getting your book cover ready and done. That was a chore in itself, and has a few funny stories to go along with it. Or I can tell you the experience of making the world’s most awesome book trailer while in a public park, on an I-phone and with a child actor that demanded Ice-cream for her two minute performance. Or even the trauma of being upstaged by a hand in the trailer. Yes I said hand.
So in the mean time, I am going to hurry up and wait. I am going to pretend I do not care either way, because if the publishers know you are waiting by the phone/E-mail/smoke signals, they are just going to giggle and make you wait even longer. I am going to play along and not tell you I checked my hotmail account twice while writing this and hope someday you will come to love my book ‘Wolf Song’ as much as I do. I promise it will get out there no matter how long I have to wait or how many people I have to stalk.
Thanks for listening,
As I have said before, there should be no friction between self or indie pubbed authors and traditionally published authors. We are all just trying to get our books into the hands of readers and make a little money in the process. In my opinion, there is no correct decision. There is only what makes sense to that author at that time. I will probably do a blog post on that next week and list some resources for both sides.
I want to thank Frank for stopping by! It takes guts to say “I am going to try to do something that is very difficult” publicly. What I love about his plan is that he is preparing for all contingencies. I know how difficult it is to get a book ready for publication and I can only imagine how difficult it is to seek a publishing deal (and wait, which is something I am NOT good at doing). Frank has done both and that is a TON of work AFTER writing the darned book.
By the way, a little bird tells me that he is working on the second book as we speak...
PS...Check out Frank's AWESOME trailer. Whenever I watch it, I hear Ice-T's "I'm You Pusher" in my head (back when rap was good).