The Road to Publication


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 wasn�t 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 don�t 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, you�ve 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 progresses.

And, of course, it never hurts to set yourself apart from the competition by fashioning a nice letterhead. An email doesn�t 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 (, 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 �Writer�s Corner�. 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 children�s story, The Dragon and the Drought, will be published in 2004 by Writers Exchange.