As an amazingly successful published author, I am recognized as an expert on the subject and often asked how one should go about getting published.
By my kids.
Everyone else? They just tend to roll their eyes when I talk about getting published.
If they even notice I’m talking.
But, in case someone out there is looking for advice on how to get published, here is my simple guide.
How simple, those of you with short attention spans ask worriedly?
Simple enough for a pre-tweener.
As proof for the above statement, I am using my pre-tweener kiddo’s experience following my sage advice to illustrate my approach.
Step 1: Write a book. I can’t help you with this one, except to say form words with letters and sentences with words and paragraphs with sentences. The more pleasant and easier on the eyes the paragraphs, the better.
Don’t forget the spaces between the words and sentences (but NOT between the letters!).
Fortunately, Step 1 turns out to be the easiest part of the process.
Step 2: Write a query letter. This involves doing market research so you can
argue convince the publisher you’ve selected to print your book that people will actually buy it. I know, this sounds like something the publisher should be doing, but apparently they are lazy.
As a bonus, you can falsify your data and the lazy publisher won’t bother to check.
If dealing with a small child, you will most likely be asked what to put in the query letter. Ah, the innocence of youth, asking that age-old question as if there’s an answer. I simply told my spawn to say why someone would want to read their book. A translation of his letter (pictured above) appears in the Details section if you click on it. I think he put it exactly how the rest of us authors wish we could put it.
Now I know, you’re thinking, “Why bother with a query? My book is amaze-balls and I had to buy a home security system just to ensure the manuscript wasn’t stolen after I wrote it. Why not just send the publisher the only copy of my book and be done with it?”
Good question. And for the most part, you’re absolutely correct. But there are two points you overlooked: publishers are lazy (see above) AND they have terrible office security systems. But the sheer awesomeness implied by your query letter will excite the publisher out of their apathetic state and give them time to upgrade (or install) a suitable security system in their office.
Or they might ask you to send the manuscript directly to a bank for safe-keeping in a vault.
This is the true purpose of the otherwise tedious query letter – to learn the appropriate secure address to send your manuscript to.
Step 3: Wait for the offer letter. Don’t worry, you’ll get an enthusiastic and generous response almost immediately. Books are in high demand, and publishers can’t wait to crank out more. As an author, you’re a valuable asset in high demand! Prepare to be on Easy Street (near the intersection of Unbelievably Effin’ Wealthy Lane), living the high life! You probably won’t even have time to run to the nearest corner convenience store to get a slushy. That’s how fast the turnaround time will be!
Step 4: Upon receiving a request back from the publisher to see your full manuscript, send it. Then sit back and wait for the proof copy to show up on your doorstep, along with the check for an advance so large it dwarfs the GDP of third-world countries like Sweden and Belgium.
And wa-la! You are done. You are now a bona fide published author with all the associated bragging rights that come with that.
Yes, you can corner coworkers, guests at parties, Nanowrimo participants in coffee shops, even complete strangers on the street, and sing the praises of your book and your writing prowess, all in the name of encouraging them to buy a copy of your book.
Step 5 (optional): You can also do as the kiddos below did, and flush with pride and confidence, start your next book.
Yes, the kiddo did come to me asking to have his book published, and yes, I did make him write a query letter. I wanted to properly prepare him for the horrid, thankless reality of being a writer.
However, I fear I may have undermined that message with my ‘response’ to the query letter and making a physical copy of the book for him (via CreateSpace).
What do you think? Did I do the kiddo wrong? Keep in mind that said kiddo was jumping, dancing, and running around the house with pure joy when that proof copy found its way into the kiddo’s hands.
For any parents out there thinking this might be fun to do for their kids, here’s the process I followed:
1) Wait for kiddo to write the book and then come to you, demanding it be sent out to a publisher to be printed. This will most likely happen in the middle of reading said kiddo a book s/he likes. In this case, it was Yobgorgle by Daniel Pinkwater.
(Interesting aside: it was another Pinkwater book, one of the Blue Moose series, that put the idea of getting a book published in said kiddo’s head. I think Pinkwater owes me, big time.)
2) Pretend to mail the book to a publisher. If you have qualms about this, but encourage belief in Santa or the Tooth Fairy, then lose the qualms.
3) Spend those precious few spare moments when you aren’t working, the kiddo(s) aren’t around, and the spouse isn’t on the computer to painstakingly disassemble kiddo’s book, scan each page, and then import into a word processing document.
4) Realize you should have downloaded the CreateSpace template for the book (and cover) BEFORE you imported the scanned pages into your document.
5) Realize that the scan resolution you used (600dpi) is way to frickin’ high to generate a manageable word processing document (unless you have a terabyte of RAM and an OS that can address all of it).
6) Resize the images down to something manageable.
7) Export your kiddo’s book to PDF format if using CreateSpace. This is a CreateSpace requirement. Modern versions of both Word and LibreOffice have an Export to PDF option.
7) Discover that your kiddo’s six page book isn’t long enough for the 24 page minimum required by CreateSpace. Get creative. I separated pictures from text, put them on opposite pages. I also wrote crazy author, illustrator, and editor bios, and manufactured some ‘deleted’ scenes.
8) Upload your book to CreateSpace. Wait an hour for the upload because you didn’t downsize the images enough. Then realize you need a proper cover with something to go on the back of the book. Wait for the panic attack to subside and slap something together. Unless your kiddo is in high school, they aren’t going to care that much about the back of the book.
If they are in high school, put something jaded and ironic on the back.
Oh yeah, and download the cover template BEFORE creating the cover. You will need your favorite PDF-reading image editor. I use Gimp 2, but Photoshop probably works as well. You will be using multiple layers, with the cover template as the bottom-most layer. Ultimately, nothing from the template should be visible in the final image.
Save two versions of the cover – one in the native format that preserves all the layers, and one that is a flattened PDF.
If your image editor won’t let you save/export as a PDF, save as a normal image and then open that image with something that does allow such an export. I use the free program Irfanview.
9) Get an email back from CreateSpace within 24 hours stating that your manuscript and/or cover has formatting problems. Don’t open this email when your kiddo(s) are around. Wait until they are somewhere they can’t hear you swearing. Then do your best to understand what the cryptically described issues are and fix them. Then upload everything again.
If you didn’t save a layer-preserving version of your cover, this is the point where you decide the whole thing is pointless and the kiddo(s) should be sold off for medical experimentation. Why? Because you’ll have to start the cover from scratch.
10) Step 9 will most likely happen several times before success is yours. Once it is, order the proof copy. CreateSpace allows you to preview the book online as well – do that first to make sure everything looks right. I spend about $4.50 for the 24-page book and about $6.50 on the cheapest shipping rate. Despite the predicted delivery date, I received the proof copy in three days. Apparently no one sends mail any more, so the post office has nothing better to do than rush the few packages they do get to my house.