Sunday, June 1, 2008

"You wrote a book? Really?" (Part 1)

Yes Virginia, I wrote a book. Still amazes me that even two years later, whenever I tell family and friends about the progress of the book I had written, this is the basic response and conversation I get from them:

"You wrote a book? Really? How interesting! What's it about?"
"Contemporary romance. Strong woman, weak man. Dual plotted as the lead male character works out his emotions by putting them to paper, which turns into a novella. Some sex and some violence."
And the conversation usually dies down, until the topic is changed to Why did you write a book? Then the silence on my part becomes absolutely deafening, because for the most part, I can't really come up with a good explanation as to why I wrote the book. So I tell people that I was going through some problems at work, and I needed something to do as a distraction. And for the most part, it's accepted at face value.

I started it in December 2005. For reasons that I won't elaborate on, the words poured out with ridiculous ease. I would get up very early (about 4) and quietly make my way downstairs to the basement where I kept my laptop. For the next hour or so, I would quietly hack away on my book, usually at the pace of about three to five pages for the mornings (and about five to ten at night, when I worked on it after work). By March 2006, I had sixteen chapters totaling a little under 200 pages written. After some judicious editing, I had gotten the page count down to about 195.

Around May/June, being the overconfident individual that I was (and still to this day), I began to give serious thought on getting this thing published. Not really having a clue on how to go about doing that, I did what any smart person who was stuck for an answer to a question: I went to the public library. Perusing the "New Titles" shelf, I found a book by Ken Atchity (which I highly recommend) called How to Publish Your Novel: A Complete Guide to Making the Right Publisher Say Yes.

After reading this thing from cover to cover and taking more than a few notes, I started off on trying to get my foot into the door of the publishing industry. The first step was acquiring a book that was referenced multiple times (and again, one I highly recommend to anyone who is serious about getting published) called Novel & Short Story Writer's Market, a very good annual publication produced by Writer's Digest.

After gaining a copy of this book and reading a few chapters, I followed their basic advice of entering my work into a few contests. They say the easiest way of getting noticed is winning a few contests, and I thought, "This should be simple. Win a contest, get published."

But as the old saying goes, nothing is as easy as it seems to be at first glance....

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