Getting past the filters, i.e. getting to a contract

I look at getting my first novel published as a play in the traditional three acts. Act 1 was writing the book. Act 2 was finding a publisher who believed in my work and thought it would sell. Act 3 is “selling” it, i.e. generating book sales. Right now, am about to embark in Act 3 with a plan, but it will, like the first two, be a learning experience.

As promised, I found finding an agent and/or publisher to be a challenging process that was filled up highs and lows and starts and stops. As I noted in my prior blog, several agents gave it a look, but wouldn’t take it on. A couple of agents suggested I look into self-publishing and, in fact, one associated with an agent actually called me.

Intrigued, I thought I would look into it if, for nothing else, to see what I could learn. Over a period of six months, I actually talked at length with three and got proposals from them. I still had faith that I could find publisher, so turned them all down.

Frustrated with the process of finding an agent, I started looking at small independent presses who published military fiction and started sending out query letters. With each batch of five, I experimented with a slight different format. The letters not only had a synopsis of the book, but also included information on my writing and flying and military background as well as a summary of the marketing plan.

Queries went out and the “thank you, but no’s still” still came back. But the people at the small independent presses talked to me and offered suggestions. So, I kept fine tuning the letters and sending them out.

At the same time, I came out of the closet and started networking. Over the years, I found networking was the best way to find a job so why not a publisher? It was one of those forehead slapping moments in one thinks, “why didn’t I think of this earlier?” Bingo. This approach led to several presses taking a long look at the book. One publisher sat on the manuscript for several months before they decided not to do fiction. To use a cliche, I began to believe there was “light at the end of the tunnel” and there was a chance that I would realize my dream. The first publisher who said yes would get the book.

Then, at a reunion, I met Barbara Marriott who is one of Fireship Press’s authors and she offered, after listening to my tale of woe, make an intro to the acquisitions editor at Fireship. The query went out and the rest, as they say, is history.

Marc Liebman