I have always been interested in the “behind the scenes” aspect of the publishing world. I like to know the hows and the whys of everything, so I suppose I’m doing a bit of projecting when I assume that readers feel the same way. So here goes nothing. Or something.
I have never had an agent. Every book I’ve ever read on the subject of publishing says, “Number one: Get an agent.” That didn’t work out for me. After carefully crafting and sending out approximately eighty-five query letters for LILITH, a supernatural thriller, I got plenty of interest, but no offers.
I decided to go it alone and send queries directly to publishers instead. It took far fewer tries, about a dozen or so, before I got offers from two different houses, one of which was DarkFuse, an independent mass-market publisher. So I guess the lesson there is: it’s easier to get a publisher than it is to get an agent.
My query letters were nothing special, just a little blurb about the story, my background as a writer, why I felt my novel was different from other similar books that were out there, the word count, etc. etc. A synopsis of the storyline and the first two chapters were also included.
A couple of months after sending out the query to DarkFuse, I received an email requesting the entire manuscript for LILITH. A few weeks later, they asked me if I could cut the story to less than 70K, which I did. The next thing I knew, they were sending me a contract. Of course, I did the obligatory happy dance and called my family to tell them the good news. That particular book has been my best-selling one to date, and I am now writing a sequel.
Since they had already published one of my books, they were interested in reading my next, which was a novella called THE BLACK CHURCH, more of a straight horror story as opposed to the action-oriented thrills of LILITH.
Again, the editor liked the book and made an offer. Although I ended up cutting a lot of it and changing the ending, I was pretty happy with the end result. The staff at DarkFuse is top-notch and very well respected in the business, so I trust them completely. The cover art for both books was beyond awesome and the editing as professional as that of any major publishing house.
The main ingredient for getting published (besides writing a great book, of course) is perseverance. Knocking on door after door, day after day, and getting rejected over and over again, is definitely not for the faint of heart, but it is part of the process of getting published. Self-publishing is fun, and I’ve done it, but there’s nothing like the validation of a company who has published hundreds of high-quality books saying, “Hey, good news—you made the cut!” Yep, I wouldn’t trade that for anything.