Any writer, old or new, knows the publishing business has changed radically in the last ten years or so. More every day. Publish on Demand companies have proliferated. Kindle allows anyone to post their work for free. Does it sell? Sure. If you market it diligently, you may sell twenty copies. If you’re one of the lucky ones.
It’s still better to get a deal with a pubishing house, preferably one of the Big Five. You still need a literary agent to accomplish this. Literary agents reject unsolicited material 99% of the time. You have to be in the one percent. One percent!
The first objective on the path to publishing success is the most vital: write a great book. There’s a lot to be said on this and I certainly will. The first thing towards this goal is the Great Idea.
I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse, but I get a lot of ideas. All the time. I do not lack for things to write about. I can get a one-word idea and within days a story has formed — characters peek out, dialogue speaks to me.
For the book I’ve just finished the word was Mathia. I could see a group of math and science nerds organizing, calling themselves the Mathia. They bully the bullies. I collected ideas about plot, characters, settings, and bits of dialogue on scraps of paper for almost a year, dropping them into a basket while I finished editing another manuscript
When I finally sat down to write what I refer to as “the bully book”, it went quickly and was so much fun to channel my inner eighth grade boy.
The book is about thirteen-year-old Alex Withal, who has been a bully since second grade. He’s about to go into eighth grade and knows he will rule the school. But his dad gets transferred five hundred miles away and he ends up in a math and sciences middle school run by — who else? — the Mathia. The book is titled Alex Bullied.
Told from the first-person perspective of Alex, this was a blast to write. My writers groups were very encouraging along the way. It’s the kind of book children literary agents profess to be looking for. If I can write it well. If I write a fun, entertaining story for middle grade boys. If I can also come up with a killer query. If I can be in the one percent.
I have a ways to go. I will be finishing the first edit soon. Then it will go to my first readers for their comments and critique. I will experience my first crisis of confidence. After fighting back from that, I will edit again. I will do all I can to make this a book no agent can refuse. No publisher can refuse. No reader can put down.Ultimately, to me, it’s all about the readers.
I will make this story stronger with every rewrite. With help, I will search out every grammar and puncuation error. I believe in an “invisible manuscript.” An agent’s assistant, or agent, or editor should not have their focus pulled from the story or the writing. I have to write a great book.
Now you are up to date on this adventure with me. I will chronicle every miserable (or jubilant) step and rejection along the way. I don’t know if Alex Bullied will be good enough to be in the one percent, but at least I will present myself as professionally as I can, remain open to helpful critique, and always, always, try not to give up.
They may reject me, but they’ll never break me.