We've got a special treat for you today! Kathye Quick is back with advice for all you writers out there who want to be published. Kathye gives us her story in the hopes it will encourage others to follow in her footsteps. Incidentally, The Writer's Life kicks off Kathye's CYNTHIA AND CONSTANTINE VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR, so please, leave a comment to make her feel welcome. She's quite excited to be touring and loves feedback!
So You Want to Write a Book
by Kathye Quick
Although it seems like another lifetime ago, I remember vividly the moment I decided that I was going to write a book. I had just finished reading another romance novel and I thought I can do this I mean, I had been editor-in-chief of my school paper, won a writing award from the Courier News, and was infamous among by friends and family for writing short, entertaining stories about people I imagined were real. How hard could it be to turn all that talent into a 300 page book?
Over the course of the next few months, I sat down at the word-processor and banged out a story that spanned about 320 pages. With absolutely no idea of what I was doing, I opened up the front cover of one of my favorite books, copied the address of the publisher from the inside pages onto a manila envelope, stuffed in the manuscript and sent it off to wait for fortune and glory.
Well that was on a Thursday. By Monday it was back in my mailbox. I figured someone at the publishers had made a mistake, so I put it in another manila envelope and sent it back out. That was Tuesday. By Friday it was back.
Now it was a mystery.
That Saturday I was attending my first writers meeting with Barbara Brenton, now a NY Times Best-selling author, back then a Harlequin author. I had met Barbara in a bank in Hillsborough a week or two earlier and, while standing in the teller line, we got to talking and she spoke about this wonderful writers’ group and thought I should join.
For some reason, a little voice inside my head advised me not to say anything about my “submission” so in a rare moment of sanity, I listened to it.
After the meeting I knew why my manuscript had come back in record time.
It was not formatted correctly, had no page numbers, no chapters, no synopsis, no query letter, everyone but the kitchen sink had a role in the story and both the hero and heroine ended up dead. Some romance, huh?
I NEVER told anyone what I did – until now.
While we all have heard the story about a manuscript written on lined yellow legal paper, in pencil, with coffee stains on the bottom with an editor liking it so much that she just had to publish it, and then it sold a hundred cajillion copies, the reality is that it doesn’t happen very often. Maybe once in a hundred cajillion submissions.
In today’s tight market, the competition for the available publishing slots, especially for first books, is incredible. To give your manuscript the best chance for one of them, even before your great story gets read, you need to know the submission guide lines. Or at the very least – have page numbers and chapters!
Seriously, though, sometimes there is a question niggling in the back of your mind but you think it is not relevant enough to ask. Not true. Here’s you chance. Ask away.
I’ll answer the one you probably want to ask of me. Yes, I did eventually get the manuscript in proper format and submit it correctly. While it did come back with a rejection letter, not in a few days but rather in a more respectable few months, I was told that my greatest strengths were plotting and pacing. So I went to every writers meeting I could attend and soaked up the information like a sponge. And although that particular manuscript occupies a place of honor in the bottom drawer of my desk, I did get twelve others published and am working on a new venture called The Sons of Lost Civilizations, a romantic fantasy trilogy that I hope to submit to the very same publisher who sent my first manuscript back on the first UPS truck out of New York
In the back of every writer’s mind who ever had a manuscript rejected (and isn’t that most of us) lives the old saying: “Publishing is the best revenge.”
Kathye Quick writes contemporary and career romances for Avalon Books, romantic comedy and historicals for Wings Press, urban fantasy for Cerridwen Press, and most recently medieval historical romances for Wild Rose Press.
In August 2009, Avalon Books will publish her three-book contemporary romance series entitled Grandmother's Rings. The books, Amethyst (August 2009), Sapphire (December 2009) and Citrine (early 2010) follow the Archer family siblings in their quest to find their soul mates using rings given to them by their grandmother. Kathye used the birthstones from her family for her inspiration for this series.
Her latest book is a historical fiction novel, Cynthia and Constantine. You can find out more about it at her website at www.kathyequick.com or her blog at www.kathyequick.blogspot.com.