By Tal Boldo
When I was 23, I decided to become a writer. My dream was pure.
I saw myself sitting in a garden, birds chirping, the wind whispering
through the leaves. The whole image was quite serene. There wasnï¿½t
a cloud in the sky.
It was only after I placed my novel with Commonwealth Publications
in Canada that I realized there was more to being a writer than
writing. This was a vanity press (paid by the author) who promised
also to promote and market the book like a traditional publisher.
Whether the enterprise began legitimately or not, I donï¿½t know.
But it ended with many authors losing thousands of dollars. That
was a rude awakening.
I decided the only way to become published was to get an agent.
I sent hundreds of queries over a period of two years. Only one
agent asked to see the manuscript. He wrote back within a week of
receiving it to say he was not interested.
Two years later, I edited the manuscript thoroughly and submitted
it to The Fiction Works, an excellent e-publisher who, at the time,
was still open to submissions. Though the manuscript was not accepted,
Sally J. Walker was kind enough to send me several of her articles,
free of charge. She also recommended some wonderful books.
My second draft of my first novel was then laid to rest--once
and for all. Based on my reading, I created the novel To Sculpt
a Living Statue. When the writing was done, I queried several e-publishers
and was fortunate enough to be accepted by Books Unbound, a high-quality
new electronic publisher.
If your ambition is not merely to write but to become a published
writer, you must prepare yourself for an equally colorful journey.
The thing to remember through all the downs and downs is that persistence
will end in success. It is only a matter of getting good enough
at your craft. The competition is fierce. Mistakes are not tolerated.
Once you complete your novel, set it aside for a month or two,
then edit it again. I once sent out a query to a traditional publisher
who, miraculously, asked for the manuscript. It was rejected shortly
after. When I scanned the returned pages in wonder, I saw to my
horror that the story was not as polished as I imagined.
When the manuscript is so familiar to you that you quote passages
in your sleep, youï¿½ve probably worked on it enough. Then you must
forget all about being a writer, and learn how to market your ideas.
Writing a query letter to an agent or an editor can take weeks.
You must learn to see your book from the point of a view of an intelligent
reader. You must forget how it ends to discover by what means it
And, of course, it never hurts to set yourself apart from the
competition by fashioning a nice letterhead. An email doesnï¿½t have
to look drab.
In the end, a quality presentation will attract
attention, but it will not necessarily sell the manuscript. Different
houses have different needs at different times.
Through the years, I have gathered a lot of information about
the market. In my web site (www.talboldo.com), you will find a list
of electronic publishers. Relying on a list of this kind, will save
you time when you begin to query different houses. I also highly
recommend that you check out the entire ï¿½Writerï¿½s Cornerï¿½. I have
written in detail about the query letter, providing sample queries
that sold. There is also a list of recommended reading, which includes
the books that have so improved my writing.
I always thought that getting published would make me feel complete.
The strange thing is, it meant much less than I expected. More good
lay in my desire to get published than in the outcome. I was forced
to learn, improve--as I still am. So when you find your own journey
solitary and trying, focus on the improvements you are making rather
than on your tangible success. Like a cause that stems from on effect,
it will come in time.
Tal Boldo was born in Israel in 1968 and was educated in
England, Israel, and Canada. She has a Bachelors Degree in Literature
from the University of Haifa, Israel. To Sculpt a Living Statue
is her first novel. Her childrenï¿½s story, The Dragon and the
Drought, will be published in 2004 by Writers Exchange.