My Publishing Story
Updated: Jul 26, 2018
It was that pivotal moment when I decided to turn my idea into a story that my number one goal was to get published. Eight years ago, though, that seemed easier said than done: You dream up your story, write your story and submit it. Willy, dilly, ding! Done!
Oh, how completely ignorant I was. Feeling confident about six months into writing my first book, The Guardians of Azkarale: The First Shadow, I decided to start looking for publishers, the one thing I later discovered you DON’T do. Was I overwhelmed? You bet!
Not only did I learn my book was farther than Bilbo from the Lonely Mountain--with Bombur on his back no less--from being finished, but that I also had to rewrite my first draft, edit, find an editor, write a query, a proposal, find and query appropriate agents and hope to land one, all before a big publisher would even look at it.
Yep, I cried, but after a week of meddling with my thoughts on the matter, I settled into my new task with a clear vision of where exactly I was headed, and so I trucked on and finished the first draft of my first book, as well as my first children’s book.
Thus came the rewrite. But off to the side sat this little children’s book with a character who played no major role in the series. That was when I got the brilliant idea: “This one's finished, let’s get it published first!”
With all the bad ideas on how to approach publishing, this was probably the worst and if I could go back in time, I’d slap my past self upside the head with an idiot stick and cite the words of the French soldier from Monty Python and the Holy Grail until it sank in.
Feeling confident, I wrote a query, a query so bad that if it were wadded next to what your dog leaves behind you’d hardly tell the difference. With this “query,” I proceeded to submit to five agents, two who replied with a much too kind “no.” Undaunted by the response, and lack thereof, I submitted to three more.
Starting to feel discouraged, I wrote another, even worse, query and submitted to two more agents.
With only five more agents on my list, I rewrote my query, a little better this time, but still far from where it needed to be. After two more rejections and months of silence from the rest, I became desperate.
Not once did it dawn on me that my book was part of the problem. I did all the editing myself, thinking the plot alone was good enough to at least get it through the door and that the publisher's editors would take care of the rest. Therefore, as stubborn as I was, I refused to send it to an editor because I didn’t want to spend the money. Not doing so was much easier, after all.
That’s when I made the biggest mistake to date and one I would never recommend anyone repeat.
I signed with a vanity press.
I know, you’re thinking my brain was replaced with marshmallows burnt beyond recognition, and, quite frankly, it was. I was so down, defeated and desperate that after a year and fifteen rejections, finding someone who “wanted” my book felt good, so I signed the contract and forked over $1,000.
Six months later, my book finally made it to editing and soon after that, the illustration stage. That’s when, on January 19th, 2017, I received this:
Tate Publishing is experiencing a transition period and we are no longer accepting any new authors or artists. All authors and artists will be contacted directly within the next few weeks about the status of your production and your options for completing your projects.
What actually happened:
From Oklahoma News 4
CANADIAN COUNTY, Okla. - Charges have been filed against Ryan and Richard Tate, of the Oklahoma book publishing company Tate Publishing, for fraudulent business practices.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter today filed eight felony charges and one misdemeanor charge against Ryan and Richard Tate for alleged fraudulent business practices the two conducted while operating their businesses, Tate Publishing and Tate Music Group.
The charges include four felony counts of embezzlement, one felony count of attempted extortion by threat, two felony counts of extortion by threat, one felony count of racketeering and one misdemeanor count of embezzlement.
To say I was devastated doesn’t come close. I was angry, depressed and ashamed that I didn’t listen to those who warned against such a publisher. All the signs were there, but I allowed my desperation to interrupt common sense, and so, my book sat for months, untouched, unthought of, for the mere mention of it brought back the dark abyss of a failure I plodded into.
It was at this point I decided it wasn't good enough and that it didn't deserve to be published.
That was until July of 2017 when I found the spark for this little book again while working on my second novel, featuring this now prominent character. This time, I made it my mission to do things right. I soon found Brian Tedesco, executive editor at PubSolvers, who worked for one of the major publishers, W.H. Freeman, a branch off of Macmillian, before starting his own editing service. Once I had a polished manuscript, I gave it to the very talented Rachel Sharp to illustrate, giving her free reign to do as she pleased.
By late October, all illustrations were completed and I set out on my next task.
By now I was a better, more mature writer and managed to keep it brief and to the point. But, this time, I listened to the advice of those who were successful and I contacted another editor to look over my query, something I recommend every first-time author do. With her suggestions, I polished it further. After two months and three more rejections, I finally decided to submit to a publisher I had looked into for a couple weeks. Not a day later, they requested my manuscript and a month after that I received the contract.
The road to publishing is a long one, filled with holes and ravines and sometimes bridges to dead ends. It takes maturity and humility to look at your manuscript, your process and yourself with a critical eye and to push through the hard in order to succeed, not what’s easy (mark my words, if it’s easy, it’s deceiving). But if you can traverse the highs, the lows, the mud, the cliffs and the mountains that come with this journey we call publishing, you will have succeeded in the most important step: getting your foot in the door.
In closing, God works in mysterious ways. I firmly belief that my failure with Tate was meant to happen, for had my book gone to print with them, it could very well have come to a dead end. Yet God has not only blessed me with the gift of this story, He has also blessed me with a second chance and for that I must give Him all the glory for the small success I have so far achieved. And so, from the bottom of my heart, I hope you all come to love and appreciate this little character as he sets out to conquer his fear, as I have, and continue, to conquer mine.