At 12 I wrote a book. If you can call 300 pages filled with gobbledygook and slight incessant rants a book, then I wrote one. Of course it was horrible, but that wasn’t the point. The 300 page manuscript entertained me, and so I never stopped writing. At 14, I finally finished a young adult novel that I thought other people would enjoy as well, and so the 3-year process of finding a publisher began before I held Wynter Chelsea: The Legacy in my hands at 17-years-old.
Going into publishing, I believed the process would be easy. Movies made the steps look rather simple. You write something, someone looks at it, they edit the book for you, and then abracadabra, a book is placed on your coffee table. But these movies lied to me. The long, tedious process will test a writer in so many different ways. You’ll question whether your material is good enough, whether it’s even worth it to see your baby in print. In short, it will seem absolutely impossible to hold your published book in your hands.
I searched for three years for a publisher. Three years. Realistically these movies don’t show the commitment, dedication, and ultimately the drive it takes to see your book in print. A great example of this is the television show My Boys. I know, I know. It’s not a movie. But My Boys is a perfect example 0f how easy it looks to become published. Stephanie Layne, the tomboy protagonist’s best friend, gives her bestie advice on men and dating almost every episode. And then all of a sudden she decides to write a book about relationships called You’re a Great Guy, But… Why is this a bad representation of publishing? Layne wrote a book and within a couple of episodes she became a best-selling author. There was no struggle in her advancement to success. I’m all for the idea that anyone who works hard and wants to write a book should get published, but realistically, this show failed to illustrate the actual work it takes to create a best-seller. There are exceptions, of course. Some famous people have ghost writers who do the work for them, and their books become best-sellers in days. But let’s be honest. Most of us aren’t going in with a golden star on Hollywood Boulevard or an MTV reality show in our belts.
Cheaper by the Dozen, a family friendly movie in 2003, is based off the biographical novel about parents raising their dozen kids. In the movie, Bonnie Hunt plays Kate, the mother of the bunch. As a child, I adored this film, and realistically it shows that connections do matter to a point. Kate sent her manuscript to a friend, and that friend helped Kate’s book become published. Networking helps. Is it necessary? No. But it does help. That beings said, the writer also has to have talent in order to receive that kind of luck. Right when Kate finds out that her book is being published, she has to set off on a tour in New York and this eventually leads to an interview with the Oprah Winfrey Show. Now some people probably realize that this is a movie and would never happen. But I must warn those of us who love to dream that this process is too short, too unrealistic, and again too short. Once you immediately get published (which I hope many of you do) you’ll have to make sure the book is edited to perfection before the interior is formatted and the cover is made. This all takes relatively six months. Depending on the publisher, promotional tours start before the book is actually in print and that length of time could be months to a full year. Again, the process is long.
So here’s the gist of what’s been said. Publishing is not going to be easy. Finding a publisher will test every ounce of your being. And I truly believe those of you who stick with it and keep searching are the ones who will succeed. That being said, I strongly suggest letting someone else read what you wrote (not a family member) and critique your work. If they think you have something of worth, then don’t just set the book down. Fight to see it in print. You deserve it, and so do the other people who could get some enjoyment out of your writing. Don’t get discouraged. If you really want it, then it is possible. And don’t go into publishing thinking it will take a few minutes or a few days or even one year. The years will tick by and before you know it, five or ten will have passed with your first bursting ideas. The more flexible you are to time and to your own work, the more likely you’ll succeed.
So readers, are there any other movies that have guided you in the wrong direction? How have your brushes with publishing been? Did Cheaper by the Dozen lead you astray as it did me? Any questions about publishing, where to find writer’s groups or critiques, or just general ones, post below!
Becca Michelle Ritchie is a sophomore studying Mass Media Arts at the University of Georgia and published two Young Adult novels with Outskirts Press in late 2008 and 2010. She plans on pursuing television screenwriting as well as continuing the third installment of her series.