Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Writing is a long, often lonely, process. Many laymen, including myself at one time, think the road to publication is a short one, one that consists of three basic steps.

1. Write/finish a book.
2. Send book to publisher.
3. Get a publishing contract/rejection.


As if!

The path to getting a book on the shelf is a winding one, complete with detours, dead ends, bridgeless waters, and evil fire-breathing dragons ready to burn your ass to a crisp the second you become complacent.

To most, the biggest hurdle a writer will face is the actual writing of a book. Hence comments like:

Wow! You wrote an entire book? You must be good!

Fortunately, writing--building a world, bringing life to characters, the formation of a story-- is the easy part. I say fortunately, by the way, because if writing were more difficult than what comes after, nothing would ever get written.

So what comes after?

Well, once a writer "finishes" his/her book, the real work begins. Writing's evil twin--Editing! Some love it, others hate it. Whatever one's feeling, it is a necessary element that simply cannot be skipped. Truth be told, there are some writers--including myself--who spend more time editing than they do writing.

Okay, so once the editing's done, it's time for the publisher, right?

Not even close, sweetcheeks. The next step is my least favorite thus far. The fashioning of a query letter. This is key and, frankly, I suck at it. A query letter has several elements:

Greeting. Dear such-n-such,

Brief BS intro. I read an article in Writer's Delight where you said you were interested in MY
GENRE. I am enclosing, for your consideration, my manuscript titled THE JIBBER JABBER OF A RAMBLER, complete at 75,000 words.

Back of the book description, (keep it brief). When lonely bachelor FRED SMITH wakes up on Saturday morning, he realizes he can't stop talking. Whatever comes to mind flies out of his mouth without warning, and without censorship. After a week of spouting off at all the wrong people, Fred decides to lock himself inside his Kentucky home and become a recluse for his own safety. But when a ghostly figure appears and tells him this new condition is all part of a mysterious, spiritual journey that will, in the end, change his life for the better, Fred gathers his courage along with his wagging tongue and sets off to seek his destiny.

Lame-o summary here. THE JIBBER JABBER OF A RAMBLER is a story about the power of honesty and the painful lengths one man will go to find true happiness.

Credentials, or the lack thereof. Although I am a debut writer, what I lack in experience I hope to make up for in my writing.

Short, generic closing. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Signature and contact info.

Sadly, a query is never complete until it's been rewritten about fifteen flippin' times--until the end result makes you feel less like puking than the last several drafts.

And you send this to the publisher, right?

*Evil laugh* You wish! This goes to...get ready for AGENT--lots of them, most likely. In return, a writer can begin, and often complete, a dandy collection of form rejection letters/emails. It's a whirlwind of fun. Really. Try it sometime.

*open email*

Dear Author... WTH? This is a form letter! You bastards didn't even read my fancy query, did you? Dear Author my eye. I'm writing them back.

Dear Agent,

You suck.

How'd ya like that, you impersonal New York pieces of--oh! I've got mail!

*click, click*

Dear Author...SHIT!!!

This can happen dozens of times, until...

*click, click*

Dear Rhiannon, (awww, that sounds sweet)

I read and enjoyed your story. (But...I know there's a but)

I'd like to represent you. (Holy #$%$!!!!)

And all the form letters and rejections that came before are forgotten. You scream and clap and dance, call everyone you know--very calmly--and share the news in the most nonchalant manner you can muster. Because you are just too. Cool. For. School! Mmm hmm.

Now. Now is when it gets sent to the publisher. Gotta be! Right?

Pshhh. Have you learned nothing? Of course not. Duh. It's time for, drum roll please...



Yes, again! Get used to it, baby, because once your manuscript gets picked up by a publisher, it will be edited some more. You're going to edit so much that you will begin to speak your punctuation (period) Does it sound daunting (question mark) Good (exclamation point) Because it is.


Then, once you and your agent have finished the editing, he/she will begin the same process you used to query agents to shop your book to the publishing houses.

For this, your agent gets 15% of your earnings--well worth it, in my opinion, because it is a long, tiresome process. A delightful challenge, though, and I wouldn't trade it for anything else. Well, not yet, anyway ;)


  1. Nice post! I like the way you write!

  2. Great post! I'm stuck in the editing process now and don't see a light at the end of the tunnel, ugh! I was happy to see you included a query letter sample. It will come in handy when I reach the next step. I don't think writing the query will be easy at all.

  3. Hi Amy! One of my more recent posts has the exact query I used for my latest book. It was a successful query as that manuscript got a contract. That post has a little more detail and might be more helpful :) Thanks for stopping by!