You know what’s not magical?
Sending out queries to publishers.
I’ve sent 20 queries in the past 2.5 months.
That number doesn’t feel like a lot. But, I assure you, it’s a freakin lot of work.
Researching publishers is step one. Besides a list of potential publishing houses shared by one of my writer friends, I am using Writers Market 2017 to come up with a list of publishers that allow unagented queries for nonfiction directly from writers. Then I go and research each publisher individually. Sometimes this results in crossing them off the list. Because maybe they are listed as interested in nonfiction, but right now they only want books about Asian philosophy, vampire folklore, Catholic heritage, espionage or UFOs (I cannot make this up). Timing is everything. I’ve also cut ones that ask for snail mail only. By the time I get to a post office, it will be 2018.
Further, each publisher has a certain format and specific requests (one publisher asked what I envision for the cover). Yes I developed a skeleton book proposal upfront, one in which I could copy and paste parts for each individual query. But I personalize each cover letter (which includes tracking down a name of the acquisitions editor) and rename certain parts of the proposal. For example, one publisher may call it “marketing platform,” another “marketing plan” and another “promotional ideas.” You may think that sounds neurotic, but I’ve heard of publishers making their requirements so peculiar in order to make cuts easier.
Every time I click send or submit for a query, I’m as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
You know what’s also the opposite of magical?
I’m up to 3 rejections. Certainly not enough to wallpaper my cabin, and quite honestly, all the rejections have been extremely polite. They’ve also come within a day of my submission, so that says something.
One editor wrote: “This sounds like quite the experience, but we’re primarily looking for how-to guides at this time. If we get to the point where we’re able to expand into travel narratives, we’ll be sure to follow up.”
I’d like to remind you that publishers pursue less than 1% of submitted work and it took bestseller Chicken Soup for the Soul 140 queries before finding a publisher. I’m submitting to small publishing houses and these stats ring true. They typically publish between 10 and 250 titles a year, but receive between 1,000 to 5,000 queries. Response time is typically between 2 and 6 months.
Tough odds and a painstakingly slow waiting game.
In the meantime, I am still self-editing my book. Boy did it need polishing from the very first draft.
I still have a long list of publishers to research and probably at some point, I should go through and check how many times I’ve overused certain words (like very or so). I am also going to triple protect myself by asking permission of those who I’ve included in the book. (I drop more than 60 names!!!)
But for now, that’s all I have for you folks!