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Here goes another ramble about to ways and whys of the publishing world. Today’s topics, mythology. Those of you who aren’t interested here is something adorable for you to peruse. (Click for the cute!)

Still with me? Well good. I will add my caveats and disclaimers now. I’m not professionally published. However, I’ve been researching the publishing industry for five or six years now. This compilation comes from reading the advice of Miss Snark, Kristin Neilson, Writer Beware, Nathan Bransford, Janet Reid, Heather Brewer, Ally Carter, and countless others who have shared their experiences and knowledge online. Check em out!

Alright you’ve written your opus. It’s going to be the next best thing to JK Rowling and Dan Brown! Right? Probably not. Bluntly, first novels usually suck. (And yes I am including mine in the mix.) Most authors “first novels” are third or forth attempts. Does that mean you and I should toss our first completed works down the tube? Well I’m not. Even if this first work doesn’t sell I’ve learned from it. I’ve learned how to keep pushing towards an end, how to not lose momentum even if I get a great idea for the previous chapter, how to build a climax and a character. And I’m still planning to shop it around once I’ve edited it to a fare thee well. But once I’ve edited it… I’m working on the next novel. And it won’t be a sequel.

Alright so your first attempt sucked, you can admit that and keep going. (Writing professionally is all about keeping going and not letting rejections stop you.) You’ve written your second, maybe your third novel. You’ve talked to a good critique group and you, your crit partners, and your Great Aunt Millie all agree this novel rocks! You send the manuscript off to all the agents you can find… and they comes back postage due. I know of no agent who takes unsolicited manuscripts. None. What they take is a query letter, a synopsis, sometimes the first 3-10 pages. All of them are different. Research, research, research! If you are writing Sci-Fi thrillers then you can probably skip the agents who only represent romance novels or christian lit. Most agents have a few genre’s that they represent. Usually it’s what they love. A good agent will love your work, and you want a good agent. You already know that if an “agent” or publisher asks you to pay money upfront you run away… right?  If it's right for the agent they will request a partial, or maybe the full manuscript, but wait till they request it. 

So you’ve done it! It took twelve drafts of three novels but you have an agent! Once it sells you can by a house, a porshe and live on easy street! Or you can get a dinner at Olive Garden. Getting an agent isn’t a guarantee that your novel will sell. Your zombie/vampire romance novel might be cutting edge… but maybe too cutting edge. Or someone else sold a book on that very subject just last week. You improve the odds once you get an agent but it’s no sinecure. But you beat the odds, you sell your romance of the rotted flesh. Now for the pay day. Publishing is cutting back, advances are shrinking. First novels generally have advances of under 10,000 dollars. Split. Usually half on acceptance and half on the manuscripts delivery and approval but there can be other ways it get’s split up.  And your agent gets 15% of that, plus tax.  

Well it’s enough for that dinner, and maybe a DVD. Speaking of DVD’s, your fang crossed lovers tale would be awesome for the big screen. You could get Johnny Depp for the starring role! One of the reasons you got an agent was to keep some of the subsidiary rights. Things like audio book rights, foreign translation rights and yes TV/film rights all mean more money for the author. Film right are a big deal. And they probably will buy a goodly number of dinners for two at Olive Garden, but you the author are probably not going to have any say in the matter of the film once you sign on the dotted line.

I write because I love it. I write because I have stories to tell. I don’t expect it will make the mortgage, perhaps not ever. But I’m still planning on writing.
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May 2012

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