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Copyright 2004 Tara K. Harper.  All rights reserved.

The 39 Steps to Getting Published

People are always asking how long it took me to get my first book published.  Counting the amount of time it took to find an agent, I guess it took about three years -- five months to get an agent; six months to rewrite the manuscript for him; four months (I think) for Del Rey to offer me the final negotiated contract; one and a half years till the book hit the retail stands.  That, as I am constantly told, is fast.  Now, from the time I turn in a completed manuscript to the time the book hits the shelves, is between 6 to 10 months.

In the list of steps below, you'll notice that. although there are times when you are doing a significant amount of work, the biggest task is that of waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting... Of course, you could always be productive and write another book in the meantime...

These are the steps most people go through to get an agent, get an editor, and get published.

  1. Write the book.
  2. Find a list of agents who might be interested in representing your work.
  3. Write and mail your query letters.
  4. Wait while the agents receive the query, then consider your work, your resume, your potential readership, the current market, etc.
  5. Repeat steps 3 through 5 as often as necessary until you really do get an agent.
  6. Get your finalized manuscript to your agent.
  7. Wait while your agent reads your manuscript.
  8. Wait while your agent writes up the critique of what needs to be fixed before he can present your work to a publisher.
  9. Incorporate the changes your agent requests.
  10. Send the rewritten manuscript to your agent.
  11. Wait for your agent to reread and accept your manuscript as ready for presentation to a publisher.
  12. Wait while your agent copies and sends the manuscript to a prospective publisher.
  13. Wait while the assistant to the assistant to the junior to the senior editor reads your manuscript.  If this editor likes the manuscript. she will pass it along to the next editor in the line.  If she doesn't like it, she will reject it and send it back to your agent.  At which point, your agent repeats step 12.
  14. Wait while the assistant to the junior to the senior editor reads your manuscript.  If this editor likes your work, he will pass it along.  If he doesn't like the story, he will reject it...
  15. Wait while the junior to the senior editor reads your manuscript. If this editor likes your work....
  16. Wait while the senior editor reads your manuscript...
  17. Wait while the editors argue for taking on yet another unknown author to the higher-up powers-that-be in the publishing house.
  18. Repeat steps 12 through 17 as often as necessary until you have been offered a book contract by a publisher.
  19. Wait while your agent negotiates a contract with the publisher.
  20. Wait while the publisher gets the manuscript critique to you, including requests for changes.
  21. Rewrite your manuscript, fixing all the problems identified by the publisher.
  22. Send your rewritten manuscript back to your agent (or publisher) by the due date.
  23. Wait while your agent hands the manuscript to the publisher and tells them again how wonderful you are.
  24. Wait while your editor reads the rewrite and makes the second set of change requests.
  25. Pray that the publisher doesn't change editorial management, and that your editor doesn't leave the publishing house. (If your editor leaves that publishing house for another house, it's quite possible that your new editor won't like your work at all and will request extensive revisions in a completely different vein than that which the first editor requested.)
  26. Rewrite the manuscript again, to incorporate the second (and hopefully final) set of changes requested by your editor.
  27. Send the final draft off to your agent by the due date.
  28. Wait while your agent reads the manuscript, then takes it in person to your editor and reminds them again how wonderful you are.
  29. Repeat steps 20 through 28 as often as necessary until your publisher can't find anything else wrong with the manuscript.
  30. Wait while the manuscript goes through its final story edit.
  31. Wait while the manuscript goes through the line or copy edit.
  32. Wait while the manuscript goes into production.
  33. Receive the galleys and check them carefully!
  34. Send the galleys back to the publisher ASAP.
  35. Wait while your corrections are incorporated into the typeset book.
  36. Wait while the book is printed.
  37. Wait while the printed book is warehoused (one to two months).
  38. Wait while the warehoused stock is distributed (yet another month).
  39. Wait the final weeks until you see it on the shelves of your own local bookstores.

If you have survived the process to this point, you are now a published author.  Congratulations!

        ...And people wonder why it takes so long to get into print.

Copyright 2004 Tara K. Harper

All rights reserved.  It is illegal to reproduce or transmit in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, any part of this copyrighted file without permission in writing from Tara K. Harper.  Permission to download this file for personal use only is hereby granted by Tara K. Harper.

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