I adore my parents, but they are truly clueless about the world of writing and publishing, as are most people who haven’t seriously pursued it. Last night while having dinner at their house, I mentioned that I’d gotten a request for pages from an agent, to which my dad replied, “So you sold your book?”
Um, no. Not quite. I explained that the agent was reading the first three chapters of my manuscript, as well as a synopsis. I told my dad that odds are, the agent will pass (I’m not necessarily a pessimist, just realistic); but that I’m interested in getting any feedback he might be willing to offer.
My dad gave me a look that clearly said, “Huh? Why on earth are you bothering?”
Trying to explain the writing/querying/publishing process to the uninitiated is tough. I’ve gotten a version of the following questions more times that I can count:
Why did it take you so long to write your first book? *Because I have a toddler and a husband and it’s not as easy as you might think.
Why do you spend so much time revising? *Because first, second, third, fourth and fifth drafts… are never perfect.
How do you know an agent’s not going to steal your idea or your work? *Uh, I just know.
Why do you even need an agent? Because it’s next to impossible to get your work read unless it’s submitted by an agent. Plus, I want someone in my corner who believes in my work and is willing to go to bat for it.
It takes TWO YEARS for a book to hit stores once it’s sold? *Yes, sometimes longer. Publishing is not an overnight phenomenon. There’s a great deal of moving parts in the process. Patience is required.
I get the feeling, too, that my friends and family secretly believe that if (when!) I get a publishing contract, I’m going to be an immediate billionaire with a New York Times Bestseller. I WISH! So, I continue to explain the process as simply as possible to those who ask, because it took me a long time to learn this stuff, too. Really, I’m still learning, and will continue to do so as long as I’m trying to get my foot in the door—and beyond.