The simple answer is the traditional one. Unfortunately that is very difficult these days. Unless you are exceptionally talented and/or famous, breast augmentation has worked for some–how much do you want to suffer for your art? Remember JK Rowling was rejected by the first 12 publishers and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, 14, both quite recently. “I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.” Was what Nabokov was told by one publisher when he submitted Lolita! All the way up to a Guinness Book record for Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance with 121. My favourite is Lord of the Flies (21). So you can see two main points here, taste, even in so-called-professional-precognitionists can be very subjective. Imagine if you could foresee two of the most popular books in Britain a few years ago being about a hundred year old gezzer that goes out of the window and sado-masochism! –the zeitgeist can be difficult to see. The new and innovative doesn’t always mean it will be easier for you to get published, quite the opposite usually.
So what are you going to do as you wait for your standard rejection letter?–that is the most likely outcome awaiting you, resilience, a thick skin and time are essential. When I wrote ‘Hoofing It’ 17 years ago I was one meeting away from it being published, so certain were the publishing house that it was going out they told me to get on with the sequel, which was harder than it sounded as it was set two years in the future (it is not a Science Fiction novel!). Then a ‘no’, ‘not different enough for a first time novel’ and then… nothing. So you can see the line between success and failure is thin, and what makes situations more stressful is when you are not in control of it. Even when your book is published it is no guarantee of success just greater exposure.
But don’t let this put you off. You at least need to try, you never know, [insert your own aphorism here.] You need to try and get an agent, they are the first filter for the publishing houses; they need to believe in your work first. You will find an inventory of these on the web. You need to trawl through them and see which agent/agency best fits your work. Each agency has their own submissions policy, but they are all very similar; covering letter about you and your work, synopsis and a sample, (either the first three chapters or few thousand words). Make sure these are polished and don’t make things up, they will both see through it, and if they don’t, it is not the best start to a mutual relationship. Once your novel is somewhere near finished start writing to agents, as they can take months to get back to you.
Ultimately what most writers are trying to achieve is being able to write full time, even if they are not making a huge amount of money. Being happy is more important than any amount of money [insert another aphorism]. I know professional writers who even now still work part-time–there is very little money in fiction writing, as I have stated earlier.
You at least need to give it a go. Just because one book has been roundly rejected, doesn’t mean the rest will; remember you are only going to get better. This is your first stage. If this is not working−rejection is never nice, which realistically you are looking at. Then you need to self-publish and build from the bottom up.
I will be looking at this next week. But keep believing, if you have gotten as far as writing one book, you have achieved one of the hardest steps, maybe the hardest?
Next week. To thine own self be true: The Confessions of an English self Publisher.
Ian M Pindar’s latest books, under his real name are: ‘Hoofing It’ and ‘Hoofed,’ the first and second novels in The Robert Knight Series are out now. He has another three novels out this year.