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Author Seeks Publisher – The Starting Point

Screenshot of the first page of the manuscript, March 2017

A few minutes after we landed in Toronto for the second time, Mark announced he needed to pee.

Fair enough. I took him to the bathroom but as soon as he saw the woman stick figure on the toilet sign, he started to complain and refused to follow me in because he is a “man.”

“Look, Mark. I’m not going to the men’s and if you’re coming with me, then we use the women’s. Unless…”

I paused to do the quick risk assessment most parents perform on a daily basis when confronted to a new situation.

”… unless you want to go by yourself. Do you just need to pee?”

He nodded.

“Then go ahead, use the men’s. I’ll wait for you at the door.”

Airport washrooms are clean and the arrival hall was empty. I was fairly confident precious snowflake and his bladder would return safely.

“Are you okay Mark?” I called from the door a couple of minutes later.

I didn’t hear a flush. Instead, I saw Mark walking out, a sheepish look on his face.

“Well, did you go?”

“…No.”

“Why?”

“THE MEN! The other men! They’re gonna laugh at me!”

“Oh, Mark… nobody is going to laugh at you. I mean, people may be surprised to see a small… ahem, young man alone in there, but that’s it. Eh, you have as much right as them to be here and use the bathroom!”

Well, today I am Mark, self-conscious and afraid to move forward because I may be laughed at. Yet, now that I announced my project, I’m committed to carry through on it.

This is the starting point. I have a completed work of fiction and I want it to be read. On one side, the manuscript, finished. On the other… the jungle, a scary world of agents, publishers and everything in between.

At this stage, I know what I am looking for: I’m reaching out to a team of professionals to get a stamp of approval or disapproval.

If printing out copies of the manuscript and handing them out to commuters the way Metro is distributed sounds a bit too extreme, there seem to be three options for average people who have a manuscript in hand.

First are vanity publishers, companies that charge authors to have their book published. In this business model, the book doesn’t go through an approval or editorial process and many of these compagnies will print anything for money—that is, the author’s money. In a way, there are similar to diploma mills. It may be a good option if you just want to get a hard copy of your memoirs but I’m not interested because first, there is no selection criteria, second, I don’t have a few thousands to spare.

A much more legit option is self-publishing where authors set their own royalties and control the publishing process. In a market where traditional publishing is hurting, it’s often seen as a valid, modern and easier alternative. I may have considered if I had written non-fiction, for instance a how-to-do-Canada guidebook.

However, for this particular work, I’m not interested in self-publishing. Why? Because I don’t want to control of the entire process, including the design of the cover and interior, formats, price, distribution, marketing, and public relations. If I learned anything these past few years is that it’s okay to ask for help. We are raising Mark without much of a support network, we are both self-employed… hell, even when I blog I have to be a writer/techie/developer/photographer/designer! For this book project, I want to be part of a team of experts.

Remember: I work as a freelance translator, editor, copywriter and proofreader. I’ve edited and proofed entire non-fiction books authored by people way more knowledgeable and talented than me. I corrected their typos, highlighted inconsistencies and rewrote entire paragraphs. And I was paid and thanked profusely for the work. I would like my book to go through the same process.

I’m not going to hire freelancers to work on my book. I’m not going to spend the next few years trying to sell it, one copy at the time. This is not my job. I don’t want to do this job.

Instead, I want to reach out to people who know the business, who can improve the book and market it.

It’s going to be tough.

I feel like an 18-year-old moving to LA to become an actress—oh, gee babe, newsflash… the world isn’t waiting for you!

Yet, I have nothing to lose.

Time to work on the query letter, then.

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