My Road to Publication
By Jess Haines
Before anything else, let me dispel here and now any ideas that you have to have to “know someone” in the industry to make it to publication. I went into this game with no contacts, no “ins” and no real savvy. I went through the slush pile all the way to the top, baby!
That out of the way, I’ll give you the (relatively) short version of how my first book, HUNTED BY THE OTHERS, found a home.
First, I wrote the novel. This is important. Some people forget about this step, believe it or not. Don’t query before you have a complete—and as polished as possible—manuscript to offer. (You can see another guest post I wrote regarding editing prior to publication here and one on how to write a query letter here.
Next, I started my hunt for an agent. I used Google first to find out what to do and how to query.
Note: This was not a good idea.
My first acceptance came from a scam literary agency. Thank goodness, I was reading industry blogs to learn more about the process even though I was already submitting. I learned what the red flags were, and this literary agency was covered with the buggers. I backed out before very long, did more research, and found some of the better places to look for an agent/market:
• Absolute Write Forum (note the Bewares & Background Checks section)
During the process, I read an article in Writer’s Digest magazine that listed literary agents who were open to new work. I sent a query to Ellen Pepus of Signature Literary Agency off of that list, and she accepted me for representation!
She helped me clean up my manuscript a bit and sent HUNTED BY THE OTHERS out to a few editors for review. Before I knew it, Kensington had an offer on the table not only for HUNTED—but for two more books, as well!
Needless to say, we accepted the offer. The H&W Investigations Series is now selling internationally, translation rights have sold in two languages, and that three book deal has expanded into a six book deal. Must be doing something right, eh?
To this day, I still stay on top of what’s happening in the industry by reading blogs. Here are some helpful links (some of these blogs are no longer active, but check the archives for tips):
It may seem like a lot to take in, but I attribute a great deal of my success in finding a home for my novel to staying on top of what’s expected of me as an author. By studying up on what is needed and wanted by agents and editors, I’ve found some measure of success. Here’s hoping those of you who wish to go the traditional publishing route (as opposed to self/vanity publishing) can use this information to your benefit!