“How did you find a publisher?” is the single, most popular question people ask me. The short answer is: my publisher found me. But the long version is a little more complicated than that.
How did I land myself a publisher? I connected. Publishing had always been this elusive sort of fantasy, but when I began to give it serious thought, I realized there were two things that could give me an edge: incredible, can’t-put-this-book-down style…and connections. I decided to start with the latter.
On social media I began by joining writing support groups, making it my goal to connect with other authors – published or not – in my genre. I attended readings and signings to see how ‘real’ authors did their thing. I visited my local library more. As I began to do all these things, I quickly realized that while I obviously had a lot to learn, I also had a lot to give. I began handing out constructive criticism to less experienced writers, writing book reviews, and doing little freebie editing jobs here and there. And that is when it happened.
After a rather lengthy and impassioned social media post detailing both the necessity and sheer inevitability of foreshadowing in fiction, I received a private message from a woman claiming to be a publisher. She said my “turn of phrase” had caught her attention and inquired if I had ever been published before? I say ‘claiming’ because too-good-to-be-true alarm bells were going off in my brain. No real publisher was just going to happen along and discover me, right?
I thanked her and told her that no, I had never been published. Frankly, I didn’t expect I would hear from her again. The next day when she asked if I had any completed manuscripts, I got really suspicious. I told her that I had finished books, but none were ready for publication. (Was I was going to hand one of my precious books over to some quack who might turn around, publish it free on a forum somewhere, and claim it as their own? Nope!) In retrospect, I probably should have ignored the alarm bells. I received one final, short message basically saying: nobody ever thinks they’re ready – that’s what the editing process is for – and if I wanted to submit a manuscript, I could send it to such-and-such email.
Cue the panic! Had I just ticked off an actual, real life, honest-to-goodness publisher? Diving into this woman’s social medial account, I found the publishing firm she represented and then – still being skeptical – went searching on Amazon to see if I could find any books published by this little firm I’d never heard of. To my surprise, not only did I find published works, but as it turned out, everyone I spoke to about it had already heard of this particular publisher. Everyone except me, of course. (See where I could have benefited from being even better connected?)
Four weeks of sleepless nights, around the clock editing, and numerous emotional breakdowns later, I submitted the first five chapters of The Once and Forgotten Thing. Two months after that I had a signed contract in hand and my book was already sitting on the copy editor’s desk with a priority stamp. Dreams do come true.
I’m not saying all hopeful authors should run around waxing poetic about foreshadowing and hope to be discovered. I am saying that if you want to get published, start by getting connected. Find a community of people who read and write in your genre and start making friends. Stop worrying about how other people are going to advance your writing dreams and see what you can do to advance someone else’s. Not only will you grow as a writer, but you will grow as a person; and maybe – just maybe – you will get that amazing little message that changes your life forever.
Want to meet my publisher? Check out the amazing team at Pendleton Publishing!