How Does This Thing Work?

This week J and I took a pretty big step forward in our life as authors.  For years, we said we were writing novels purely for the joy of it, and we had no intention of trying to publish, and for years, we absolutely meant it.  But you can only have friends, some of whom are pretty smart, discerning readers, suggest you should try to publish before you start wondering if maybe this fun way to kill time on weekends and evenings might be more.  So while I was on vacation and J’s semester hadn’t begun yet, we decided to get serious about figuring out how this publishing thing works.

  • Which Book?
    This was the simplest part of the process.  Yes, we’ve written 21 books in our ‘verse, and even though we’ve made each novel (or series) independent of the others, we still feel as though the best introduction to the Myrcia ‘verse is the original Quartet.  Book 1 of that series is This Present Life, so that was the book we chose to try and sell.
  • Agent, Publisher, or DIY
    A decision J and I came to long ago was that if we ever took the leap into publishing, we would begin by trying the traditional publishing route.  If that failed, well, we still had self-publishing, but we at least wanted to give the traditional route a go first.  The next decision was whether to approach a publisher or an agent.  It doesn’t take too much time with Writers Market or just about anything associated with the publishing industry to see that even though the list of agents willing to consider unsolicited fantasy submissions is small, the list of publishers willing to accept them or anything unagented is nigh on nonexistent.  So, agent.  Armed with a subscription to Writers Market, internet research, and peeks at Publishers Market, we made a list of about a dozen agents, four of whom we particularly like.  We spent some time familiarizing ourselves with the books and authors these agents represent and followed the agents’ blogs and Twitter accounts where applicable, and started to get to know them a little better.  Now that we knew who we wanted to query, it became a matter of getting said query ready.
  • The Query Letter
    When we went to Context this past September, Jonathan Maberry kindly offered to share his query letter with anyone from the con who sent him an email requesting it.  He was as good as his word, and very kind all-around, offering additional advice.  But now was the moment when we had to take his query letter, which we’d obviously read several times, and actually apply what he had done to our own query.  I did the first draft and then J jumped in for revisions, and I think we came up with something pretty solid.  At least we hope so.
  • The Synopsis
    Then we had to wrangle our 164,000 word epic fantasy into a two page synopsis.  Simple, right?  Actually, it was easier than I expected.  We’re trying to sell our first book, which we began seven years ago, and we’ve put through I don’t even know how many revisions.  (Really, I’ve lost count of revisions on this thing.)  The point is, it wasn’t some soul-crushing exercise to boil down our baby to around 600 words because it’s just too awesome to be contained in that small a space.  Instead, we know the book so well that selecting the plot points and character traits necessary to give someone an idea of what the book is about in 600 words came pretty easily.
  • The Revision
    Did I mention I’ve lost count of revisions?  On the drive home from Context, J and I discussed This Present Life and our ‘verse in general, and we came up with some revisions we wanted to make.  We hadn’t done so yet, so we divvied those suckers up (I got to make a color-coded spreadsheet!) and knocked them out in a few days thanks to us both being off work for the week.
  • Proof/Copyedit
    And now we’re in the process of making sure that should an agent ask for sample chapters or even a full manuscript, This Present Life is ready to go.  Assuming nothing pops up to stop us, we just might send our first query by the end of the month.  Wow.  A long way from “We’re just doing this for fun and don’t want to published,” isn’t it?


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