May 14th, 2019
Hi everyone, and thank you for listening to the launch episodes of the We Make Books Podcast - A podcast about writing, publishing, and everything in between!
We Make Books is hosted by Rekka Jay and Kaelyn Considine; Rekka is a published author and Kaelyn is an editor and together they are going to take you through what goes into getting a book out of your head, on to paper, in to the hands of a publisher, and finally on to book store shelves.
In this episode, Rekka and Kaelyn continue their discussion on the production process of a book, picking up from when your book gets picked up by a publisher!
We Make Books is a podcast for writer and publishers, by writers and publishers, and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, concerns, and any theories you may have about how much Godzilla a Godzilla Would Godzilla if a Godzilla Could Godzilla Ghidorah!
Thank you for taking the time to listen to this introduction, the first batch of new episodes drops on May 14th, so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it.
A transcription of this episode can be found below.
We hope you enjoy We Make Books!
=== Transcript ===
Rekka: 00:00 Welcome to the We Make Books podcast. I'm Rekka Jay
Kaelyn: 00:03 I'm Kaelyn Considine
Kaelyn: 00:04 and I am a science fiction author
Kaelyn: 00:06 and I am a science fiction and fantasy publisher and editor. This is the first official episode of our podcast. We previously recorded an introductory episode, which if you haven't listened to already, we highly recommend you go back and listen to,
Rekka: 00:20 that's like our mission statement and what we hope to achieve with this podcast and the format that it's going to take. So, um, since we're still early on and it's not too much to go back and binge everything since this is episode one, um, we invite you to go back and just and listen to that episode and that will really tell you what we are getting into. But of course by listening to this episode, you also get a taste for that. But this one's not quite going to be our normal format.
Kaelyn: 00:42 No, this is going, we're a little bit of a departure from what will be our normal format. Uh, we'll tell you a little bit more about it, the start of the show. Um, this intro is a little longer because we just, you know, have a couple of things we want to say, but in this episode we're going to be taking you through some broad steps of the publishing process and we just wanted to start this with the disclaimer that we know these are broad steps. We know we're oversimplifying, glossing over things, not giving every single detail. And that's the point because we just want to give you an idea of here's all the things that are happening and these things are what we're going to be talking about more specifically as the podcast continues on.
Rekka: 01:19 Right. Kaelyn was inspired to the idea for this podcast by somebody saying, "I don't even know what I would do with my finished draft." So this is going to be a very, uh, it's like a two-part mini series that we're starting off the whole podcast with of like, here are all the steps that are coming your way and we hope that you're going to say, oh, I didn't know about that.
Kaelyn: 01:41 Yes
Rekka: 01:41 Or like, okay, okay, okay, this is, this is good. I'm feeling good about this. You know, like, and then
Kaelyn: 01:46 Bam.
Rekka: 01:47 Bam.
Kaelyn: 01:47 I've never heard that word before. What is that?
Kaelyn: 01:49 Yeah, what is that, so definitely if you are confused by anything, make a note of it and tweet us @wmbcast on twitter or email email@example.com and let us know that like that is something that you have never heard before or something that you've always been confused about and we can definitely add that to our slate of things that we're going to take a deeper dive into, which will be the normal format. But here we are just kind of getting your feet wet, kind of giving you a taste for everything that's on its way for your story and for your process ahead of you. So, um, again, this is a longer intro than usual, but we wanted to, we wanted to preface that this isn't going to be the speed at which we normally cover the entire process
Kaelyn: 02:31 and by the way, for a really long introduction, go back and listen to the, again, go back and listen to the introductory episode because we talk a lot more about what we're hoping to accomplish here, what, how we want this podcast to be a resource and helpful to people in the writing and publishing industry. It's also pretty funny. We tell some interesting stories about how
Rekka: 02:52 we've got anecdotes and anecdotes.
Kaelyn: 02:54 We got stories about how we got here. They involve alcohol, drunk lists, and a lot of texting. [laughter] So, you know, go take a listen. Um, you know, get to know us a little bit. We're, we're really hoping to get to know a bunch of you as we continue on with this. So, um, without further ado, let's get into the episode.
Piano: 03:20 [Music]
Kaelyn: 03:20 Microphones are, you know, like, they only work if you talk into them.
Rekka: 03:22 What!
Kaelyn: 03:23 I know. It's fine. Eventually we'll all have chips in our head that take care of that for us.
Rekka: 03:29 Yeah. It was just like, okay, "Life: Rewind back the last 25 minutes and publish that as my podcast."
Kaelyn: 03:34 Oh, goodness. All right. Anyway. Hello everyone.
Kaelyn: 03:37 We do publish science fiction, right?
Kaelyn: 03:38 We do. Hello everyone, and welcome to The We Make Books podcast. I am one of your hosts, Kaelyn Considine
Rekka: 03:44 and I'm Rekka and I'm wondering why Kaelyn is doing the intro intro instead of just the episode intro.
Kaelyn: 03:49 Oh, I don't know.
Rekka: 03:50 [laughter] Just professional all the way down.
Kaelyn: 03:54 I just want to, you know, in case they forgot in the last 20 seconds or we went on a long tangent–
Rekka: 03:58 that music was really good. And they're just like bopping along, and like, wait, where am I?
Kaelyn: 04:03 So this is the, you know, as we said in the intro, the first official episode of the podcast, and hopefully you listened to our introductory episode. If you didn't, I would recommend going back and listening to that just to kind of get a feel for what you're about to commit your time to.
Rekka: 04:17 Also, we really like the sound of our voices, so we'd like you to have as much of it as possible.
Kaelyn: 04:21 I do not like the sound of my voice.
Kaelyn: 04:24 [laughter]
Rekka: 04:24 [laughter]
Kaelyn: 04:24 We talked about this in the intro episode actually. So this is, this is a big give for me. Um, so we thought, you know, we're, we're releasing a few episodes all at once for when we get started here. So we thought what we'd do for the first two episodes, we're going to cover a very rough, very light go-through of the process of taking your book from mostly completed book through the submissions, through the editing, to the published and sitting on a shelf somewhere for people to buy
Rekka: 04:55 Over two episodes, though.
Kaelyn: 04:56 Over two episodes. Yes. We're going to do very high level, the first episode which you're listening to now, we're calling Draft to Acquisition. Then we're going to go Acquisition to Bookshelf. So for our purposes going forward here we are assuming that you are either done or approaching done. This book will be completed at some point. Eventually we're excited to talk about, you know, getting to the finished point
Rekka: 05:24 Yeah getting from the middle point or the beginning point or that moment when you start to say, wait, what am I even doing? And that's a mindset thing. We not talking about mindset today.
Kaelyn: 05:31 Yeah.
Rekka: 05:32 We'll touch on like attitude later, but we're not talking about mindset.
Kaelyn: 05:35 Yeah. That's for another discussion. And you're going to hear us say that a lot.
Rekka: 05:39 Yeah. Um, but today we're trying to run down the first stage, which is a finished draft to acquisition.
Kaelyn: 05:47 Yes.
Rekka: 05:47 Um, which is sort of funny because the first thing we're going to tell you to do is put your book down and walk away from it.
Kaelyn: 05:55 [laughter] Yeah ....
Rekka: 05:55 That's the hardest stage.
Kaelyn: 05:55 It's, yeah. You've just spent so much time and energy and effort and life force.
Rekka: 06:02 That is true.
Kaelyn: 06:04 On creating this thing. So here's the deal. Don't look at it for a while. Do something you know. And I'm not saying like completely erase it from your memory.
Rekka: 06:13 Don't, don't not tell people that you finished it. Like go out, have dinner, celebrate it.
Kaelyn: 06:18 Go see a movie
Rekka: 06:20 consume another book. Like you've probably not had much time for reading lately because you've been working so hard in yours. go read something,
Kaelyn: 06:27 play a video game, shift your mental focus off of the book.
Rekka: 06:30 Get to the point where you forget exactly what order everything happens in.
Kaelyn: 06:34 Yes, yes, definitely. Because, and here's why we're saying to do that: because you have probably spent so much time on this, it is so in your head, you're sleeping and breathing this, you are possibly missing things and putting it down and walking away from it for a bit is a good way to then come back with a semi fresh set of eyes. It's your book. You're never going to come back to it with a complete set of fresh eyes.
Rekka: 06:59 Right.
Kaelyn: 07:00 But putting it down, not thinking about it as much and then coming back and doing another path is so helpful and it's such an underrated piece of advice.
Rekka: 07:09 I really pound that drum, so I don't know if...
Kaelyn: 07:12 I do too. And that's the thing.
Rekka: 07:14 I don't know if it's an underrated piece of advice because, let me tell you, it's the first thing I tell people.
Kaelyn: 07:17 I mean even with like authors that you know, like I'm working with at Parvus, like if they're stuck on something and they're like, I don't know what to do. And I literally tell them, I want you to go do something else for a week and not think about this.
Rekka: 07:28 Take a draft vacation.
Kaelyn: 07:29 Yeah. So, so anyway, that's, that's the person, my art, both of our recommended first step
Rekka: 07:36 and then you come back like a week or two later, um, longer if you, if you're not in a rush
Kaelyn: 07:41 If you have the time, you know, depending on deadlines
Rekka: 07:43 this in something that you're doing for a deadline, you, you have some time, maybe come back after a month and just load it onto your kindle so that it's not something you can easily edit, and read it as a reader would consume it. So that means you don't like how that sentence is written? Too bad. Keep going. Yeah. Like you're not making an editing pass. You are experiencing your book as best you can as a new reader.
Kaelyn: 08:06 And do I like my own book? And you know, that's, it's very important to do
Rekka: 08:11 and make notice of spots where you're getting a little bored. Like maybe it's hard to press through a chapter and you just keep like wandering away cause your reader will too.
Kaelyn: 08:19 If you're getting bored, someone that's reading it, there's a very good chance they're also,
Rekka: 08:23 Yeah, cause you're slightly more invested in this than other people.
Kaelyn: 08:26 Yeah. So once you've done that next recommended step, get someone else to read your book now. I say anyone, but really it should be, it should be someone that this is a book they'd be interested in because if it's like pulling teeth, they're just going to be like, I don't know. I guess I liked the talking space aliens.
Rekka: 08:42 It's like, well that was really interesting. That's maybe not helpful feedback.
Kaelyn: 08:46 That's not helpful feedback but getting some feedback and like this is sort of the pre acquisition Beta read or a stage where you want people to go, you know what? I was confused about this one thing or I wasn't sure what was happening here.
Rekka: 09:01 It didn't feel like this question that was raised early on got paid off.
Kaelyn: 09:04 I don't understand this character or why there– and somebody that is interested in this is the one who's going to give you the best feedback there. Now, maybe you don't know anyone and there's all sorts of communities of people that,
Rekka: 09:16 Yeah, I mean online you can, you can connect with people if you do it in a natural way, like don't show up and drop your manuscript on the desk and be like read it,
Kaelyn: 09:23 Read it!
Rekka: 09:24 Read it, everybody. Try to build up a community of online friends or real life friends or book club friends
Kaelyn: 09:29 There are so many writing groups out there.
Rekka: 09:31 I mean,
Kaelyn: 09:31 And they're great
Rekka: 09:32 If you need Beta readers, sometimes the best Beta readers are genre readers and they're not necessarily writers themselves, but they know what it feels like to read the right book in that genre because you know, you'll hear from many sources and probably us like in two seconds that every genre has its own set of expectations
Kaelyn: 09:50 Yes.
Rekka: 09:50 And promises that you're making the reader. And if you don't hit the beats that someone who picks up a space opera, for example, is expecting to read, they're going to feel like something's missing even if they can't put their finger on it. And at this stage, you know, you just finished it. If you can get an early reader to say like I just feel like something was missing at the end. You at least know that, okay, you're writing space opera, go study a space opera, go read another space opera. See what what identifying marks are happening throughout the story in general, broad terms, not like, you know, this character X goes and does this thing and says this to somebody. That's not the stuff that is going to feel like it's missing, but the, the hero at the mercy of the villain kind of moments.
Kaelyn: 10:32 The broad strokes. Yeah, it's, it's sort of intuitive, which is not always helpful in terms of identifying
Rekka: 10:37 and that's why sometimes your, uh, your readers can't tell you what they didn't like. They just knew that something was off. And it's frustrating.
Kaelyn: 10:43 I can't give you a definition, but I know it when I see it.
Rekka: 10:45 Yeah. Oh yeah. I know that phrase.
Kaelyn: 10:47 So the next step after this, and I'm going to kind of give my little thing and then we're going to kick it over to Rekka because she's actually got a lot of experience with this. Once your book, you've gotten some feedback, you've made some changes, you're happy with it,
Rekka: 11:02 and you have the kind of feedback that tells you how off the mark you are.
Kaelyn: 11:05 Yes, you've made some changes, you're happy with it. The next thing that you've got to think about, and I'm not, I cannot overstate this, it's a big decision to say, do I need to get a professional editor to work on this? Do I need to pay someone to come in and take a pass at this book? Now, I think a lot of people are hesitant to do that for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest ones is, "well, I think it's good. Is someone else going to come in and tell me to change everything?" The answer to that is a good editor should not do that.
Rekka: 11:41 Well.
Kaelyn: 11:41 Okay. Yeah. Let's backtrack here.
Rekka: 11:44 So you are really proud of every of every grain of sand that is in this story.
Kaelyn: 11:48 Yes. Every –
Rekka: 11:49 An editor's going to give you suggestions and some of the suggestions are going to be to change things.
Kaelyn: 11:56 Yes. So you went through this process.
Rekka: 11:58 I did.
Kaelyn: 11:59 When you, you know, you've gotten this book to a point where you're like, I am really happy with this story. Why do I need it? Someone else to look at it.
Rekka: 12:06 Well, because
Kaelyn: 12:07 Not you-you, you, the hypothetical writer
Rekka: 12:09 I, the hypothetical writer might consider an editor because one, there are a lot of writers out there right now.
Kaelyn: 12:20 Yes, yes, there are.
Rekka: 12:21 And if you are going to sell this book, whether to an agent or to a publisher or directly to the reader, you need to make this a very polished product as polished as you can on your own.
Kaelyn: 12:35 Rekka and I were actually talking about this before we started recording, even just 20 years ago, having a personal computer at home was not necessarily a standard, especially even 25 years ago. And the fact that we're so easily able to just open a word processor and write. It's great.
Rekka: 12:53 And we output the documents in the same format as the professionals, you know?
Kaelyn: 12:57 Yeah, exactly. But I mean, however, you know, let's take it back to 30, 35 years ago. Most people, if they had anything, it was a typewriter
Rekka: 13:06 and typewriter's were expensive
Kaelyn: 13:07 and typewriters were expensive, and typewriters were a pain in the ass.
Rekka: 13:10 Yeah.
Kaelyn: 13:11 Like so the fact that everyone can very easily sit down and write now means that there's a lot more writers out there and that's great. But it also means that you've got to really distinguish yourself. So back to why do I need an editor? Because they're going to give you an unbiased outside, fresh eye. Now unbiased is, this person has no skin in this game. Obviously they want you to succeed. If they don't want you to succeed, you should not be working with that person. But that's as far as their bias goes because they are there to help you get your book into the best shape it can possibly be in.
Rekka: 13:48 Right. And presumably they're editors because they enjoy this.
Kaelyn: 13:52 Yes. So Rekka, you had spent some time with a developmental editor.
Rekka: 13:56 I contracted an editing story coach. That was really the relationship. Um, so yeah, I had coaching, um, Skype sessions with an editor and he read my manuscript on first pass and then we had a conversation after he'd read it. But before we really like formed this longer term relationship because it did go on for a bit and we had a conversation and the first thing was not like here's what's wrong with your book or like, here's what I think you should change. It was what do you want to do now?
Kaelyn: 14:30 This is again, this is something we'll go into depth more later about you know, the relationship and how finding the right person to work with. But we are going to just do a few quick cautions here. If you're going to hire an editor, a coach to help you with this, have a very frank conversation upfront about what your expectations are, what you're looking for.
Rekka: 14:51 And that editor may or may not agree to read your manuscript before this.
Kaelyn: 14:54 Yes, some will offer a consultation periods for, you know, an hour of let's talk about this.
Rekka: 15:01 They might read your first 30 pages and then have a conversation because they're going to know a lot from there. Just like somebody who's reviewing submissions, would also.
Kaelyn: 15:07 Yes. Exactly and make sure that you guys are both in agreement about what you'll be getting back from that because the last thing you want to do is go through this whole process and then end up with something that's not useful.
Rekka: 15:18 Right. Like if you expect that you're not only going to get like some suggestions to improve the story but you're also going to get a copy edit pass. You should both have said to each other, "So this includes a copy edit pass. Yes. Okay, good."
Kaelyn: 15:31 Yeah. By the way, if you're getting a copy edit pass from this person, this is going to be a very longterm relationship.
Rekka: 15:36 Yes. Cause you are not ready for a copy edit yet.
Kaelyn: 15:38 Yeah. So you've done your work with your editor, You have the manuscript is in a place that you're happy with and now it's time. You're going to start submitting your manuscript and the first thing you need is a query letter.
Rekka: 15:54 And this is a whole other thing that you have to write now.
Kaelyn: 15:58 And this is another thing we are absolutely going to go into much greater detail about because
Rekka: 16:04 it's a totally different mindset writing this thing than it was to write your story
Kaelyn: 16:07 and this one page is so important.
Rekka: 16:09 It really is. It's your foot in the door or it's a door in your nose.
Kaelyn: 16:15 [laughter] Yes, exactly. Right now we're about to split into two different things that can happen. Ways to submit your either can submit to an open call that a publisher or publishing house is having, which means that anyone can submit, uh, you don't need representation to do that. The other end of it is querying an agent to get your manuscript published. There are a lot of similarities between these two processes, but functionally they're very different.
Rekka: 16:45 Well, functionally for the book, the book is going to go through certain steps.
Kaelyn: 16:49 Yes.
Rekka: 16:50 Um, from this point on whether you are accepted by the agent or whether you're accepted by the publisher, your book's probably going to go through another revision pass at least once.
Kaelyn: 16:59 Oh, definitely.
Rekka: 16:59 Um, but what you're doing now is you're aiming for publication, but if you go through the agent and you get an agent, you are no longer responsible for attempting to submit the book to the publisher. You are not guaranteed at this point, when you get an agent, that it will find a publisher,
Kaelyn: 17:18 Yes. We're going to, we're going to start with the open submission call because that one is a little more straightforward. There's fewer moving parts.
Rekka: 17:24 I actually want a backup just to touch.
Kaelyn: 17:26 Oh sure.
Rekka: 17:27 Because you have a story and your story probably follows some sort of conventions within a certain genre. Um, it probably has a certain style. It might be intended for a certain age group or audience and other, some other sense. This is a great set of metrics by which you can try and find an agent or a publisher who is a good fit for your story.
Kaelyn: 17:52 Yeah, that's a really good point.
Rekka: 17:53 Don't go barking up the wrong tree because you are just desperate to get it published.
Kaelyn: 17:57 Yeah, definitely. And that's one of the things we're going to talk about with both of these is please pay attention to the submissions guidelines.
Rekka: 18:03 It's not just the submissions guidelines, but it's their history and what they publish or who they represent.
Kaelyn: 18:07 Yes. If you have a publishing house they have an open call, please go read the submission guides.
Rekka: 18:13 I betcha there's a link on the submissions.
Kaelyn: 18:15 You know what? There probably is. [laughter]
Rekka: 18:17 Just go straight from the top right to the bottom and make sure you've done all the pieces that they're asking you to do when you send in the submission.
Kaelyn: 18:24 I bet there is even an email address at the end that you can contact if you have any questions.
Rekka: 18:29 I betcha there is.
Kaelyn: 18:31 So anyway, do all of that.
Rekka: 18:33 Yes. I'm assuming you want this book to get published. This is one of the simplest things that you can do to just get start you off on the right foot. If you don't do it is the simplest thing to get you booted right back out the door and you've lost your chance with this publisher, at least for the time being until they forget your name and they're not going to, by the way,
Kaelyn: 18:54 um...!
Rekka: 18:55 well they might forget your name, but like they might have a checklist and they show that this person was booted specifically on the fact that they did not follow this admissions guidelines.
Kaelyn: 19:03 Hey look, every, you know they, there is, there is forgiveness of course for authors,
Rekka: 19:07 there is a chance to learn again, but like if you make a habit of just sending the same style of submission to everyone, you are probably going to miss important things that are not so important to you, obviously, but are important to whoever you're submitting to.
Kaelyn: 19:23 But for each thing that you're submitting, be it to an agent or open call, you are preparing a submission. You're not blanketing the same thing everywhere, you know and saying carpet bombing every outlet with it.
Rekka: 19:34 Yup. You don't write your letter once and send it to everybody.
Kaelyn: 19:38 Yes. It's, I'm not saying you're rewriting the letter each time, but you need to make sure that what you're sending is appropriate and will catch the attention of who you're sending it to. So for an open call, maybe they just want a query letter and the first five chapters, maybe they want a query letter and the whole manuscript. Please have a query letter. They'll probably, you know, typically there should be some sort of a submissions portal for you to go to, to take care of this. And then, you know, you'll get a confirmation: We've received your manuscript, you will hear from us within x number of days. And if you do not, please feel free to follow up. And you can't see, but Rekka is smiling at me because this is something I talk about a lot. It's–
Rekka: 20:22 Yes, it's uh, it's near and dear to Kaelyn's heart: math.
Kaelyn: 20:26 Get a calendar out and count off 90 days because if you submit January 15th, 90 days is not March 15th, 90 days is April 15th. January, February, March. Yes, it's three months, but it's not 90 days. So, um, and that's one of those things that it's like just , guys pay attention, come on
Rekka: 20:50 And be concerned enough with not wasting anybody's time that you would actually take a moment to go, okay, has it actually been 90 days? It is so easy to search Google and say like "what is 90 days from January 15th" and Google will spit out an answer or a website that will spit out an answer. And it is– you don't even have to do the math yourself. The world has made it so easy to never math again.
Kaelyn: 21:14 Just, you know, just be aware of these things because I know they sound trivial, but you have to understand that especially when a publishing house has an open call
Rekka: 21:23 How many submissions do you suppose they get?
Kaelyn: 21:27 Hundreds.
Rekka: 21:28 These are all the people who've been afraid to query for an agent.
Kaelyn: 21:31 Yes. Or just have not been successful in doing so. So being as conscientious and
Rekka: 21:40 considerate.
Kaelyn: 21:41 Considerate as possible is extra points.
Rekka: 21:45 Yeah.
Kaelyn: 21:46 So then we have querying to agents.
Rekka: 21:49 Well, I mean this goes for both. You don't pay.
Kaelyn: 21:54 If anyone is asking you for money, do not submit to them.
Rekka: 21:57 Do not pay a reading fee. Do not pay submissions fee. Do you not pay like an award submission fee. You know.
Kaelyn: 22:04 You should never have money coming out of your pocket just to be submitting or considered.
Rekka: 22:10 Yes.
Kaelyn: 22:11 So if you're finding a place that's like well our submission fee is $50 because we need that to cover the, the time and cost of you know, someone looking at this, close the window, walk away, find a better, better place. So yes. Thank you. That's, you're right. That's important.
Rekka: 22:29 I didn't want that one to get overlooked by anyone who is going to skip ahead past the agent's part, cause they don't care about agents. Yeah. So,
Kaelyn: 22:36 but some people care about agents. A lot of people, care about agents.
Rekka: 22:39 There's a good reason to care about agents, and I say this as someone who does not have any kind of agent. Agents are like a big brother or sister or other person that they know how the industry works. They also work closely with auothers and they know how you feel at almost any given moment in the process. And we know there are feelings.
Kaelyn: 23:00 [laughing] They understand you.
Rekka: 23:00 And so you have somebody who is sympathetic to you, who has a network within the industry and who has relationships with publishers and maybe has lunch with an editor that like has told them
Kaelyn: 23:14 I have lunch with agents a lot.
Rekka: 23:15 Yeah, I, "I had lunch with this editor and they're looking for a book that is exactly like that. And then you just told me about like, can you polish that up and send it to me?" And so that's something you don't know unless you've had lunch with that person who just mentioned it in passing.
Kaelyn: 23:30 Yeah. And so that's uh, that's part of definitely part of the appeal of an agent, it's a major part of the appeal of an agent. But to get an agent you have to query them. I'm going to just say real quick here, I always think the query is a little bit of a misleading title because in theory what it's asking either of a publishing house or an agent is, are you interested in this?
Rekka: 23:55 Right. That's the query. The question is, are you interested in this?
Kaelyn: 23:58 What it should actually be saying, however is here's why you should be interested in this. And again, we're going to do probably more than one episode about submissions and query letters in the future.
Rekka: 24:10 Easily more than one.
Kaelyn: 24:11 Yes. [Laughter] Um, but when you're querying an agent, you're basically saying, I've written this book or here's a proposal for a book I'm going to write and trust me, if you're a first time author, you're not getting that. That's for established New York Times best sellers. Um, and you know, agents, we'll also have, uh, submissions, guidelines, query guidelines. You know, what they want from you, the format they wanted in
Rekka: 24:36 whether they want a synopsis with the email or whether it's the synopsis is the first step of interest or whether the, you know, they want the first chapter or whether they want to three chapters. I mean, every agent has a method that they have determined because agents are pretty independent people with regard, like they may even be with an agency, but they all kind of have the freedom to come up with their own process.
Kaelyn: 25:00 Yes.
Kaelyn: 25:02 So work with them on it.
Kaelyn: 25:03 Yeah. And this is again another thing we will be talking about at greater length in the future. Um, but yeah, work within the guidelines of what they set up because again, they are bombarded, you know when agents open for queries, they're like,
Rekka: 25:20 there are people waiting at the door.
Kaelyn: 25:21 Yeah, they're inundated. So just that as you know, again, same as with the open call, right off the bat, don't make more work for anyone. And this is why when I say you're preparing each submission individually, you are because everyone's going to ask you for something a little bit different and yes, it's annoying. But you know what, that's just how it is.
Rekka: 25:43 Since we're talking about multiple submissions. I just want to take a moment to suggest that you get a spreadsheet of some sort
Kaelyn: 25:49 Yeah
Rekka: 25:49 and you want to track who you've submitted to, uh, have a column for whether they require exclusive look or whether you can submit to others at the same time. Have a column for each of the stages of the, um, or each of the formats of things that you might send them. Like a query letter, a synopsis, a first chapter, a full manuscript, and just put a little x in the box for whichever ones you sent them so far and then put the date that you queried them.
Rekka: 26:22 And if they list their response time, put that in and you can do the math or, or
Kaelyn: 26:28 Or Excel will do it for you.
Rekka: 26:29 If you know excel spreadsheet formulas, you can make it, figure out the dates that it's fair to follow up. And we're saying follow up politely. Yes. And then other bits of information, like just any, you know, any,
Kaelyn: 26:44 anything that's relevant that's going to help you keep track of what stage your book is or your manuscript is in.
Rekka: 26:49 And I would keep a copy of the letter that you sent them
Kaelyn: 26:52 Yes definitely.
Rekka: 26:53 So that you can reference it and say, you know, like, um, I've sent this to so and so and um, you know that way like if you are sending these out in many, many directions at once, you can keep track because you may not remember which agent. Like if you get an email back saying, please send me the first chapter.
Rekka: 27:11 You may not remember why you picked that agent. If you don't know their name already,
Kaelyn: 27:15 You have to do a lot of the work on your own here. So keeping track of that kind of stuff is very important. So, but let's say you do get picked up by an agent
Rekka: 27:24 Or they at least reply and they request a full.
Kaelyn: 27:26 They, you know, there's going to be steps there. And again, this says something else we will discuss at greater length in the future. Um, but so an agent has signed you
Rekka: 27:36 And now they're going to take over the submission inquiry process for you.
Kaelyn: 27:40 But first they're probably going to ask you for some changes in your manuscript
Rekka: 27:45 Rights
Kaelyn: 27:46 Agents in recent years have become more and more involved in the first pass in the editing process. Very few agents are now just going to take your manuscript and say, yes, this is good.
Rekka: 27:59 Right. They're not a post office.
Kaelyn: 28:02 They're going to ask, you know, they're gonna read it. They're going to ask you for some changes. Some of it might be, um, you know, based on trends they know about. Some of it might be, I have you in mind for this kind of a thing. So I want it just tweaked a little bit just so it catches their interest. Yeah. Agents might ask you for edits before they sign you. You can decide whether that's, you know, good or bad.
Rekka: 28:25 You want to follow your gut on that one based on the language in the request.
Kaelyn: 28:29 Yes, literary agents are hard to get and they're very busy and you know it, you have to decide if you want to put that extra work in for the promise of maybe you know, getting signed but possibly not
Rekka: 28:40 Yeah, because it may not be enough.
Kaelyn: 28:42 But at the same time it's feedback from a professional in the industry. So you know, always, you know.
Rekka: 28:47 Give that the, the weight that it's due.
Kaelyn: 28:49 Yeah, exactly. So after you know, you guys have had the discussion and you get the manuscript to where you, both of you are happy with it. The agent now takes over the querying and submissions process. And so this is where things kind of especially diverged from just the open call to querying through an agent.
Rekka: 29:10 So if the agent is handling the querying and um, submissions for you for the process of getting it picked up by a publisher, you now have a partner that is joining you in the submissions. But this isn't guaranteeing you that your book is going to be picked up. It is a vote of confidence from a publishing professional.
Kaelyn: 29:33 It's a big vote. It's a vote that carries the weight of more than one single vote.
Rekka: 29:37 Yes. And it's, it's a huge confidence booster. Um, or you should take it as one that somebody believes in your book as much as you do because you may not have that up until this point.
Kaelyn: 29:49 Yeah.
Rekka: 29:50 But there is still the chance that you know, this, this book is going to take a lot longer to still be picked up by a publisher and it may still find a home or you may decide that you need to revisit a few things based on feedback that they receive from the publishers. Um, but so there's still a chance for rejection at this point. Just
Kaelyn: 30:06 There absolutely still is a chance for rejection at this point and we're going to be after this, kind of moving more into the actual acquisition's process. So let's talk about the last thing that can happen before acquisitions.
Rekka: 30:17 And that's unfortunately is the, no thank you. This isn't right for us or phrase differently.
Kaelyn: 30:23 And here's the thing. Most people, that's what you're going to hear a lot.
Rekka: 30:27 And remember how we said when you're done with the draft, like maybe step away. Here's a moment. This is also ideal for stepping away.
Kaelyn: 30:34 Yes, right off the bat, most books that get rejected or rejected because they need more work. Um, it could be stylistic, it could be story, it could be any number of things in between those two. It's discouraging. Of course it is. But you have to understand that there are so many of these books that this is why we say you need to distinguish herself. Sometimes your book, however it may be great, it just might not be right for that publisher or for that agent. Maybe they just publish something very similar.
Rekka: 31:09 Yeah. Or they're working on something very similar at that moment and they can't even tell you that
Kaelyn: 31:12 Yeah, they're working on something very similar. Um, you know, maybe it's just something that they feel like they are not equipped to sell the right way. And I mean, I know we definitely have walked away from books because we're like, look, we don't want to tie up your rights because we don't think we can do what needs to be done with this book.
Rekka: 31:30 And this goes back a little bit to making sure that you know exactly who you're querying so you don't come back with complete mismatch because that's going to guarantee, guarantee a rejection much.
Kaelyn: 31:40 Exactly.
Rekka: 31:40 So like save yourself the heartache and make sure that you are finding people who sell books that are good cops for yours.
Kaelyn: 31:48 The biggest piece of advice I can give is do not take this personally. I understand that saying that from coming from someone on the publishing end, from the person who sends the rejection letters is like, well, of course you can say that.
Rekka: 32:03 Well, here, let me say it. I'm an author. I write these things. Um, you wrote a book that is the story of your heart. You love it
Kaelyn: 32:14 It's deeply personal.
Rekka: 32:15 You put hours of emotion and energy into this. That does not mean that it is not a product. You have developed a product that needs to be marketed and packaged and sold. And if you can't, if that's not something that you will ever be able to handle, write the stories and then put them in drawers. That's okay.
Kaelyn: 32:39 Give them to your friends,
Rekka: 32:40 You need to be able to detach yourself from your story enough to know that there are things that are going to improve it, that you might not have chosen. If you could write anything.
Kaelyn: 32:52 Don't take it personally. It's not personal. I understand that this is the most personal thing you've probably ever submitted and doing so puts you in a vulnerable position. It's hard to get rejected with that. It's not personal like, you know, it's not personal. It's just business.
Kaelyn: 33:11 And it sounds so awful.
Kaelyn: 33:13 It sounds cold.
Rekka: 33:15 But that's what it is. I mean publishers are trying to stay profitable so that they can continue to make books that they love. I mean essentially that was why people get into this in the beginning, at least in the beginning. And you hope that they maintain that passion.
Kaelyn: 33:31 It's hard. And so we'll, you know, we're kind of, we're both kind of getting into the emotions of it right now.
Rekka: 33:37 And we did say we weren't doing an emotional episode like, so we did get to rejections and there's no way to, you were saying detach yourself from it. It's not personal. And here we are getting very worked up about it.
Kaelyn: 33:46 Getting very personal about this.
Rekka: 33:46 So that's fair.
Kaelyn: 33:48 But along those lines with the personal, I mean it's fine if you want to get angry.
Rekka: 33:53 You don't, not to reply.
Kaelyn: 33:56 Keep it to yourself.
Kaelyn: 33:57 Yeah. If you need to vent, do not do it on Twitter.
Kaelyn: 34:00 Do not do it on Twitter.
Rekka: 34:01 I don't care if the person you submitted it to subtweets you on Twitter or you think they've subbed tweeted you on Twitter, you are not going to participate in that.
Kaelyn: 34:09 Here's the thing, people in the publishing industry, we talked to each other. So if you get a rejection letter from me or an email rather, you know, thank you so much for submitting us for, sorry this book is not right for us at this time and I get a reply from you that is anything beyond thank you for your time and consideration or you know, asking for notes from something which we'll get to that later. But that is, I'm going to remember, you know, and this is not a situation where you, it's time for you to start an argument with me.
Rekka: 34:48 Right. Your decision's already made
Kaelyn: 34:49 My decisions made
Kaelyn: 34:50 And you are just reinforce it if
Kaelyn: 34:53 Here's the thing, my decision's final. Um, and that's just how it is. It's, you know, it's our company and we get to decide these things. Yeah. If you're going to, you know, if you're going to get angry, go
Rekka: 35:05 Scream into a pillow,
Kaelyn: 35:06 Call a friend please ,
Rekka: 35:09 Talk to a therapist.
Kaelyn: 35:09 It's okay to feel those things just, you know, do not put them out into the world. So dealing with rejection is difficult, but it's something, you know, as Rekka said, it's something you're going to have to get used to.
Rekka: 35:19 Yeah.
Kaelyn: 35:20 Because this is more often than not, you're going to be rejected. Don't think of it as a failure. It's not necessarily a failure. It's room for improvement.
Rekka: 35:32 Right, and if anything rise to the challenge and say, well, okay, not necessarily right off the bat because again, if this was not a good fit for whoever you queried, then someone else may see what you see in this book and pick it up.
Rekka: 35:48 And it's when you start to get rejection after rejection from, from publishers you think were really perfect matches their publishing books by people you read that like inspired you or some story or all these other reasons and they're just telling you it's, not a good fit for them.
Kaelyn: 36:03 That's, that's heartbreaking.
Rekka: 36:05 It's heartbreaking, but it's, it's an indication that you really should be paying attention to what you're submitting and what form it's in. Maybe at what level of editing you've, you've sent it in.
Kaelyn: 36:14 And maybe this is a good time if you didn't do it before to consider getting an editor.
Rekka: 36:19 Right.
Kaelyn: 36:20 So that's rejections. You know, it's an inevitable part of this process. So we wanted to take a minute to talk about it, reassure you that feelings about this are normal and it's okay to have them.
Rekka: 36:30 And your first rejection is not a total rejection of your entire writing career.
Kaelyn: 36:33 Exactly. Yeah.
Rekka: 36:35 So that's the rejections.
Kaelyn: 36:36 Yeah, that's the rejections. I mean they're, it's hard, but you know,
Kaelyn: 36:39 It is part of the process
Kaelyn: 36:40 It is part of the process and uh, I'm going to say you got to get good at it. And I know that sounds like a weird thing to say, but, but you have to,
Rekka: 36:47 You can work out these muscles of like how to properly deal with the rejection and how you use that information to inform your next query or your next provision.
Kaelyn: 36:56 Exactly.
Rekka: 36:57 So on the flip side, eventually, hopefully you do not get rejected.
Kaelyn: 37:02 And you get that magical call or email from an acquisitions editor that says, dear, so and so, I'm interested in your book and I would like to have a phone call with you.
Rekka: 37:13 So the next step is that, um, you're going to form a relationship with this Pub - Well, you don't even have to like, here's, here's your power now the publishers interested in you. So we're going to talk in our next episode about the process of going through and um, and Kaelyn who has the inside scoop from the side of a publisher and tell us what the thought process is on that side and maybe why they made a decision to acquire something. And then we can talk about the relationship that you build and the proper steps to go along with that. Some, some words of warning. And
Kaelyn: 37:47 We're going to take you through the process of what happens when someone is interested in your book. Go through what is going to happen, getting up to the contract being signed. And that's the, that's the big moment. But then that's, it's not over after that.
Rekka: 38:02 So not over [laughter]
Kaelyn: 38:03 So much more after that. And we're going to just talk again, same format, same thing, quick overview. We know that we are skipping and glossing over a bunch of really complex things
Rekka: 38:14 And we promise if you highlight the ones that you're like, Whoa, whoa, Whoa, Whoa, wait, back up. Can you go into that, like tweet us, WMBcast, and tell us like that moment that you're like, that's the thing I don't know about and I need to hear more about and then, and we can dive deep into that in another We
Kaelyn: 38:28 We'll mark it for a future episode.
Rekka: 38:29 Absolutely.
Kaelyn: 38:30 Yes. Uh, so we're at the acquisitions point right now and our next episode we're going to cover what happens after, during and after that.
Rekka: 38:38 Right up to the point where a reader can pick up your book off the shelf.
Kaelyn: 38:41 So thank you so much for listening to this episode. And the next one is, uh, probably all queued up already
Rekka: 38:48 Probably
Kaelyn: 38:48 Because these are all coming out at once.
Rekka: 38:50 We launched with a few episodes for you, so you don't even have to wait. All right. So, um, if you could leave a comment or a rating on iTunes, both would be even better.
Kaelyn: 38:59 That would be wonderful.
Rekka: 38:59 And that will help other people find this. If you want to follow us on Twitter or Instagram, we are at w-m-b-c-a-s-t, w-m-b-cast. You can find us at WMBcast.com or WeMakeBooksPodcast.com and of course we are also on patreon.com/WMBcast. And we are asking that anyone who finds this super valuable and can contribute to, to the cause to help us keep the lights on and keep the production running and maybe improve,
Kaelyn: 39:28 Keep the shed warm
Rekka: 39:29 Yes, keep the shed warm and maybe improve, um, our production quality in the future and add more content that we can provide to people. And we really hope that this is helpful and we want to help as many people as possible. So if you could help spread the word, and if you know somebody who needs this information, you know, send them a link,
Kaelyn: 39:45 Yeah, send them a link, we'd love it.
Rekka: 39:45 That would be so helpful. We absolutely love it. So thank you. And we will talk to you again soon. Thanks everyone.
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