Entering the World of Traditional Publishing

Up until now, I’ve focused my writing energies on self-publishing. It’s been fun, and I enjoy it, but I’ve been curious to see how the traditional process actually works. This year, I’m making a more concerted effort to explore the world of agents and publishers and editors, etc.

Why have I done self-publishing up until now? For my writing, I feel it is different. As a cross between the allegory of Narnia and the brutal fantasy of grimdark like Abercrombie and the ideas of freedom and redemption from Braveheart, it didn’t fit a specific market, in my opinion. Perhaps I was wrong, but I wanted the control of the process because that’s what I envisioned. And I heard stories of how in traditional publishing, those visions can be undermined.

Why explore more traditional publishing now? I will probably continue to do so me things as a self-published author, but I feel like I have a couple projects that would connect in certain genres and age groups and therefore have marketing potential. I could be wrong, but you never know until you try.

I’m only getting started, but what are the first steps?

First, I have to have something to shop around. That doesn’t mean a rough draft, and that doesn’t mean a couple chapters. I need to have a revised and edited great idea that is as good as I can get it on my own, as polished as I can get it. Agents and editors will want to change things, surely, but I have to get the book as good as possible before they see it first. I have a great children’s book, The Mouse Who Couldn’t Eat Cheese, and I’m revising The Pack, a YA novel about a teenage girl that finds out she’s a werewolf.

Second, I purchased the Writer’s Market Guide to Agents and Publishers. I got the Children’s one, as well. I got both 2017 versions. These have the most up to date info on agents, their contact info, and what they’re looking for. You can get these from the library, but I like to have my own so I can write in them and make notes. To me, they are worth the investment.

Third, I read through the guides and made notes on agents that might be interested in my work. This takes an enormous amount of time and is plain hard work, detail oriented stuff – how do you contact that agent? what is the format they’re looking for? It answers a lot of questions and it is great information. These guides also have great articles and interviews to read and get inspired and informed.

Fourth, I researched how to format a manuscript, both a novel and a children’s book. Children’s books are a whole different market and format, so that was important. There’s tons of stuff on the internet. I try to get information from the most reliable sources (Writer’s Digest, etc.).

That’s where I am. What’s next? Well, for The Mouse Who Couldn’t Eat Cheese, it is choosing the first wave of agents to query and go for it. For The Pack, I need to get busy on the revisions.

As an aside, another great resource is a conference. I haven’t been to one in a year or so, and that is priority this year. Do research and make sure it is a good conference with real experts in the craft and business, but I’ve learned mounds of info from the ones I’ve attended. It can be overwhelming, but they are extremely helpful.

Here we go.


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