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Writing the Book was the Easy Part

I never imagined that actually writing a novel would be so hard, but it was easier than the part which came next - trying to get it published. I'm not complaining, because I have no real reason to believe that anyone would actually want to publish it. I was simply unprepared for the ordeal.


Nearly everyone who has ever written a book and failed to find a publisher probably thinks that the world is missing out on their amazing, earth-changing work. Believe me when I say that I don't feel that way about mine. Don't get me wrong, I think that after months of writing and dozens of re-writes, which are still ongoing, I think that it's pretty good, at least for someone who has never attempted to write fiction before. And I certainly know that a mystery about the sport of curling which is set in 1890s Scotland and present-day Belfast, Maine, has a pretty niche potential audience.


Nonetheless, I decided to explore having The Stones of Ailsa Craig published in the traditional way, which entails, first, finding an agent. There are hundreds of them out there. The problem is, they are all looking for different things and they certainly don't have the time or inclination to read an entire book, which is completely understandable. And so, the process requires sending each agent what is known as a "Query Letter." A query letter is a one-page letter describing the book, the genre, the author, the author's "audience" or "platform," and some comparable books.


The most common response to a query letter is no response at all. The second most common response is a form response along the lines of, "Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately, it is not a good fit for my list at this time." Once in a while, it seems that the agent may have actually read the entire query letter. In the trade, agents refer to their hundreds of unsolicited queries as "the slush pile."


After maybe 125 rejections/no responses, I did what any reasonable person would do. I simply gave up. There was no way I could compete for publication with the undead, werewolves, magical realism, horror, thriller, and romance genres dominating the market. And I surely couldn't vie for shelf space with Colleen Hoover's young adult, soft-porn empire. Walk into most bookstores, and you'll probably find three or four shelves or tables with just her books.


Am I bitter? I'll say "no," but maybe I am just a little bit.


All is not lost, though. Nowadays, self-publishing is pretty simple and increasingly common for those authors who don't want to go through the querying process or who have given up on finding an agent for their work. If you don't care about making money as an author, which I don't, it can be fun, trying to hawk a book while retaining complete control, for better or worse, over its content and appearance. That is the course which I have now chosen. The Stones of Ailsa Craig will be released in September, and I hope that you will consider reading it.


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6 Comments


Guest
Apr 03, 2023

I'm a curler, love to travel and love mysteries. I'd love to read this book!

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Awesome! Thanks.

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Guest
Mar 31, 2023

Read your blog - because I’m a curler and I’ve twice travelled about beautiful Scotland. I’m looking forward to your book 📕.

Eleanor

province of Ontario, CANADA

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Lucky you! Good curling. Dave

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Guest
Mar 30, 2023

absolutely, I will read this book. I could care less whether it is published in one way or another, if it is a good story, then bring it.

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Thank you!

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