After you’ve written your third or fourth draft with the input of your writers’ group…received comments from your beta readers and added their suggestions… listened to the advice of your editor and made the necessary changes…then what??
Some people think the next step is to create a query and send it off to potential agents or publishers. Others enter chapters of their manuscripts in contests promising to showcase winners in their magazines. Maybe even fly them to a conference in New York.
I’ve met several writers who attend conferences and submit their words to slush fests, only to hear why the agent or editor would stop reading after the third sentence. Rhino skin is hard to develop.
At my first writers conference, I was asked by an agent to submit my memoir to her agency. Her excitement about my topic was encouraging. I left the hotel feeling my work might be worthy of publication. Her phone call, a few days later, confirmed my feelings. She wanted my manuscript as soon as possible so she could issue a contract before the holidays. I was going to be published.
Six months later, after hearing my agent ask for more sex in my memoir, I decided to independently publish. The decision to submit my manuscript, using a self-publishing website, took me on a technical ride I thought I was prepared to handle. However, I quickly discovered the process was nearly as time-consuming and challenging as writing the memoir itself. How far to indent my margins, which headers on odd pages, where to place page numbers, gutters, fonts, format, template sizes, cover designs, and bleed. They all needed consideration. Did I have a picture of my own to upload for a cover? What do I want to write on the back cover? I quickly learned about royalty free images. The only problem was scrolling through thousands of possibilities and securing the rights.
After uploading the final material and reviewing the formatted version, I pressed submit to order the proof. Six days later, I opened the brown package and held my own book in my hand.
Since then, I have published two murder mysteries using the same process. I can’t say it’s quite like riding a bike, but it does get easier each time.
If you are at the “what next” stage in your writing, maybe someone at our Writers Conference will give you that extra nudge in order to hold your book with pride.