Publishing: A Journey of Many Steps
by Elana Johnson
Okay, so I was asked to share a little bit of my journey toward publication. Dude, I could go on and on about this, but I won’t. And hopefully, you’ll read something to help you take the next step, whatever it may be.
Step 1: Write a book. Or if you’re me, you write 12. That’s right. I’ve written 12 novels. Only 2 of them don’t suck. And even that’s debatable.
Step 2: Query a book. Realize it’s a lot of waiting and frantically checking email. Who knew?
Step 2A: Repeat step 2 for 6 months. Too many queries to name. Want to die.
Step 2B: Shelve book. Ouch. Yes, it hurts. No, it won’t kill you.
Step 3: Pick another novel to de-suckify.
Step 4: Revise/Edit/Rewrite the thing.
Step 5: Enter the ABNA contest.
Step 6: Move into the quarterfinals.
Step 7: Gain much needed confidence.
Step 8: Query the book. Get ready to wait it out.
Step 8A: Repeat step 8 for 8 months. 189 queries.
Step 8B: Beg, plead, pray, hope that this book is “the one.”
Step 8C: Make up mantra: “Work hard. Don’t give up.”
Step 8D: Revise twice BEFORE an offer is extended.
Step 8E: Field 5 agent phone calls BEFORE an offer is extended.
Step 8F: Get “the call.”
Step 8G: Cry, laugh, scream, cry some more, grovel in gratitude.
Step 9: Sign with dream agent. After 188 rejections, this feels goooood. Up next: take over the world.
Step 10: Or, uh, revising. Yup, again.
Step 11: And…then again.
Step 12: Wait. Taking over the world put on the back burner while gnawing fingernails to nubs.
Step 2385: Get an offer from a dream publishing house.
Step 2386: Scream, eat a lot of bacon, laugh, smile until face hurts.
Step 2386B: Wait.
Step 8940: Wait.
Step 12,094: Edit novel—again.
Step 12,095: Wait.
Step 18,306: Release cover. Freak out.
Step 18,307: Wait. June 7, 2011 can’t come fast enough.
My best advice through all the steps is simply to remember this: Publishing a book is not a race where the winners come in first. It’s not important WHEN you finish, just that you DO. Oh, and one more thing: Your journey is your own. It won’t look or feel like mine. It shouldn’t. Don’t compare journeys. Just be grateful you can take one more step.