A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to Getting Published
By Mike Faricy
A funny thing happened on the way to getting published; I didn’t, at least not at first. Oh, I followed all the rules. I addressed my query letters to publisher’s dealing in my genre. I’m one of the half billion people who write crime fiction, I didn’t send query letters to places dealing in YA, erotica or romance. Not me, I behaved.
As for the letter itself, are you kidding? Who wants to risk offending a publisher? No way, Boy Scout that I am, I followed prescribed format to the max. Each and every query letter, four to five years worth, was never more than one page in length. The first two paragraphs served as a synopsis of my award winning tale. The third paragraph consisted of two, possibly three sentences about my wonderful self, just enough of a taste to entice an ever eager publisher desperate to discover the next best selling author.
I dutifully included a self addressed stamped envelope. A waste of paper and postage really since my phone number and email were in my address block. What publisher worth their salt would stew expectantly while the US Postal service took three days to place a generous offer in my expectant hands? Of course they’d email, no doubt followed by a phone call if I didn’t respond within fifteen minutes.
At least that was my hope, as it turns out not really based on a shred of reality. As I said, I dutifully wrote book after book. They all stand alone. Hey, I was sure I’d appear that much more attractive if I offered two works of genius rather than just one. That particular argument only grew in strength when I offered, three, four, then five and finally six books. No takers.
I received a lot of responses, all form notes, ‘letter’ is far too generous a term. The note was almost always on a four by five card, no signature, no personal jotting. Once in a great while I heard from a publisher who had the courtesy to begin their form rejection with something along the lines of “Thank you for your submission…” but that was a rare occasion. Usually it was one sentence, “This does not fit our needs at this time.” I did receive a handful of my query letters returned with the semblance of a personal note. The solitary word ‘No’ scrawled across the bottom of my letter as if it had been rejected by the school principle’s office.
I was out of the country when I was contacted by a friend. He could get me into an invitation only event at a local publishing house. Okay, it wasn’t New York but after the better part of a decade I was already jaded and getting desperate. The gala event just happened to be scheduled for the evening I returned to town. That gave me a good month and a half to conjure up the image of a crowded reception room with waiters in white coats carrying trays of drinks and hors ‘oeuvres. I’d be chatting with some publishing exec that would quickly wave an assistant over.
“Oh Margo, someone here we should be talking to,” he’d say wrapping his arm around me. They’d whisk me into an expansive office, probably bring along a tray of champagne flutes to celebrate their new best selling discovery, yours truly.
I pulled into the empty dark parking lot stylishly late. Did I have the right address? I drove around the building and there, down at the far end were maybe a half dozen vehicles, all worse than mine. A dim overhead light barely illuminated a door. It was my only option and I took it.
I was one of seven or eight attendees and the only one not covered in cat hair. There were three or four small bottles of warm water resting in a cardboard box on the floor next to the trash can. An empty crock pot that once contained cocktail weenies stood on the counter next to a sink filled with a weeks worth of half empty coffee mugs. As we gave a brief sentence or two about our writing it turned out I was the only one who wasn’t doing a ten book series featuring a cat who solved mysteries.
I heard a voice in my head, my mother’s. “You are known by the company you keep.”
I did learn an interesting fact. If they accepted my manuscript that night it would be eighteen to twenty-four months before the book would be released. Really? In today’s world? It sounded at the very least unacceptable.
Shortly after that ‘invitation only’ evening I had one of my query letters returned. I’d sent this to one of the big six publishers in New York. The envelope came back to me stamped across the front in purple ink ‘Return to Sender’. On the back of my unopened envelope was a hand written note, ‘This does not fit out needs at this time’, finally my first real hand written correspondence from a publisher, let alone a big six publisher. Ironic they’d never taken the trouble to open my query letter.
A dim light flickered on in my thick skull. Mike Faricy, from St. Paul, Minnesota doesn’t have a snowball’s chance with these guys. The difference today is there’s a side gate into the publishing world its called self publishing. It’s not an easy route. You have to work hard, very hard. You have to promote, work to get the best possible product out there, but then wasn’t that always the case? It’s a shot, a chance and that’s all any writer wants. Would I sit down and talk to a traditional publisher if they contacted me? You bet I would. I’d crawl across a busy street on my hands and knees for the chance. But with electronic publishing I have another option and I’m taking it. You can click on the link to check out my latest self published book, Bombshell available on Amazon and determine for yourself. Enjoy the read and thanks for taking the time. http://amzn.to/Q0Cgdc
Mike Faricy is the award winning author of mystery suspense thrillers woven together with a rich strain of humor and even some romance. He and his wife live in Saint Paul, Minnesota and Dublin, Ireland.
His entertaining tales are populated with the sort of quirky, oddball characters we’d all like to know more about, but wisely prefer to keep at a distance. They serve not so much as examples as they do warnings to the rest of us. None of his characters will be saving the world from terrorism, international banking conspiracies or coups to topple the government. Rather, they’re individuals inhabiting a world just below the surface of polite society. The difficulties they find themselves in are usually due to their own bad decisions, but then, bad decisions make for interesting tales.
All of his books are stand alone, read them in any order you wish. Russian Roulette introduces the bizarrely devilish Devlin Haskell as a PI with a foot on both sides of the law. Dev’s adventures continue in Mr. Softee and the soon to be released Bite Me. Mike is currently working on his latest top secret project. He graduated High School from St. Thomas Academy and earned a BA in history from St. Norbert College.
His latest book is the crime fiction, Bombshell.