Obviously, I’ve been procrastinating on blogging about any progress with my Te Araroa book. I sat down to write this post a dozen times, but I just didn’t feel like I had much to share. Actually, if you’d like to fast forward through my babbling, here’s the punchline: I’m not much further along in the publishing process than I was a year ago. (Sorry for the weird formatting …)
Let’s start with a recap:
*In March 2015, we completed a ~2,000-mile walk from the top to the bottom of New Zealand, known as Te Araroa. Knowing there has not been much literature about this particular long-distance hike, combined with the fact that I always wanted to write a book, I pursued a hiking/travel memoir. I started by writing a bunch of articles/blog posts, then dove into an actual manuscript. In 2016, I attended a writer’s retreat, did a one-month writer’s residency and spent the last few months of 2016 writing alone in our little cabin in New Mexico.
*In December 2016, I finished writing my manuscript. After some tweaking during the next few months, I ended up with a little more than 62,000 words.
*In December 2016, I also created a book proposal to go with the manuscript and to send off to small press publishers that accept works from writers without agents.
*During the first few months of 2017, I ended up querying 25 publishers. The rejections slowly trickled in and I stopped obsessively checking my e-mail for word from publishers when we hit the road to continue the momentum of building interest and education about Te Araroa with a very successful 31-stop speaking tour around the United States. To say there is interest in a book is an understatement. We met hundreds of people who said, “I can’t wait to read your book!!!”
So it’s been a hot minute since a proper update.
*I could tell you that publisher-wise, I am at 10 rejections out of the 25 queries. Even though it’s been about a year since I’ve sent out all these queries—and in publishing time, that is not a whole lot of time—I still would be surprised if I heard from the other 15 publishers.
*I could tell you about the rejection from Mountaineers Books that broke my heart since I was convinced they were the perfect publisher for my genre. They gave me a VERY FAIR assessment, complimenting my writing style and the flow of the book, but ultimately called it a business decision that didn’t fall in line with their investment plans.
*I could also tell you about the co-publishing offer I received from Beaufort Books, one that happened thanks to a friend’s connection, but came just 4 weeks before we were leaving to hit the road. Because I never considered a co-publishing deal (essentially, it means the author shells out $$$$, using the publisher’s connections for editors, book cover designers and printing services), the details were overwhelming and on a crunch time for our speaking tour. Ultimately, we decided to pass up the offer, and I am still unsure if it was the right or wrong decision.
*I could tell you about the small query writing contest I won, which led to having a reputable agent edit my first three chapters of my manuscript. And, to my pleasant surprise, she liked my manuscript! Of course she suggested areas of improvement, but overall she commented that my writing was “clear with great pacing” and that I did “an excellent job of balancing description and insight into your character” and “a great job of bringing scenes to life.” Not too shabby!
*I could tell you I’ve communicated with successful authors who tell me about as many pieces of advice as to what to do next with my manuscript as the stars in the sky.
So I am currently taking some (or a lot of) time to reconsider. Where do I want to direct my energy? Additional queries to small presses? Queries to agents? Entries into writing contests? Self publishing? Some of these avenues (I’m looking at you distrustfully, self publishing) would require a massive effort and refocus, one which scares the bejesus out of me.
I can’t tell you if I’ll be back with an update in 1 month, or 1 year, but I do know this is true. I will get there, but only if I keep going.