11.10.2011

Guest Post: Author Cindy C. Bennett on Getting Published

Getting Published – Not for the Faint of Heart
By Cindy C. Bennett
As a writer, when you finally get to type (in your imagination, not in reality) “the end” after slogging away for six months and seventy-six thousand words, a sigh of pleasure and relief escapes. You think, “I did it! I’m done.” Of course, that’s far from the truth.
After more months of editing and formatting, when you’re sick to death of your book, when you feel you have polished your manuscript as much as possible, you begin the journey to publication. “How hard can it be?” you think, with hope and expectation giving you giddiness. Then you begin to explore. And you realize you have to write a query letter—not just any query letter. A letter that is short, concise, and will sell your book as the best ever written within the first ten seconds of the query.
I will say that most authors are not the best at this task. We like to expound, to use more words and give more details than necessary for the most part. Trying to condense your seventy-six thousand words into 300 seems an impossibility. After weeks of rewriting, sweating, and crying, you finally have something that you think just might sound semi-interesting and professional. You then learn that you must query an agent, not a publisher. Most publishers won’t look at you without an agent. After seeking out your top three choices of agents (why would you need to send to more than three, they’ll be vying to publish your book) you personalize and then snail-mail or email your queries.
Then you wait. And wait some more. Finally, a response … er, rejection. The first of many. Eventually you develop a propensity for stomach cramps every time you see your mail box, or open your email. This was my life for quite some time. And then I had the good fortune to meet some other writers, ironically in an online class for learning to write a winning query letter, since apparently mine was lacking somewhere as it wasn’t getting the point across about the awesomeness of my book. Through our correspondence in the class, and the decision to follow the class by reading and critiquing one another’s works, I discovered the possibility for self-publication from one of the authors.
Hallelujah! It was as if the heavens had opened and a light shined down on me. I could do this myself and no longer have to dread rejections? Show me the way!
You might wonder how this has anything to do with Geek Girl, which is clearly being published by Sweetwater Books, and not by me, myself, and I. I’m getting to that.
I did actually self-publish Geek Girl. And oddly, no one was lined up to buy the book. It didn’t fly off the virtual shelves. Imagine my surprise! The final kick came when I asked a small bookstore about having a book signing, and was told they would only have me if I had a publisher. So with dread I went back to the drawing board, so to speak. Only this time, I was looking for a publisher who would accept a self-published book for consideration.
I found a few, all small presses, all of them refusing to even look at you if you do have an agent. I only received two rejections before I opened my mail and found an invitation from Angie Workman at Cedar Fort, Inc., to send my manuscript, along with some additional info such as previous sales and a synopsis (another difficulty!). My heart began to pound, I was lightheaded, and that tiny spark of hope reignited. However, it was still with deep apprehension that I hit the send button with the manuscript attached.
When I received the “Congratulations! Cedar Fort is pleased to publish Geek Girl” email, I think I reread it three or four—or twenty—times to be sure it said what I thought it said. And sure enough, it did. What an amazing feeling that was, to finally have someone give my baby validation, to say, yes, we think this book is good, and we want it, and to be willing to take a chance on something I’d written (thank you, Angie!).
The whole process of getting published is a strange, wondrous, ulcer-inducing ride. No matter which route an author chooses, self-publishing or traditional publishing, it’s worth any amount of headache and heartache when you get that very first email with the subject line, “from a fan.” And so, to all my fans who’ve read or will read my books, and even to those readers who hate them, I say thank you for making my journey complete.

Thanks Mrs. Bennett for stopping by and sharing her publishing knowledge with us aspiring writers. Don't forget to stop back by later for my review of Geek Girl as a part of her Virtual Book Tour!!


2 comments:

Camelia Miron Skiba said...

Awesome interview, NaKesha!

I had the amazing chance to be part of Cindy's writing journey for the past two years and I can only say, yes, that is EXACTLY how it happens. She is an amazing talented author who deserves recognition. Way to go, Cindy!

Sherry Gammon Author Of Unlovable said...

Love Cindy Bennett and LOVE Geek Girl! Great blog NaKesha!

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