Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It goes on and on and on and...

Books are long projects; if it's a visual book or a novel. Many visual books are time consuming because of the preponderance of steps involved: writing, image making, design, printing, binding and distribution. Novels, as I am beginning to understand, take along time because of a series of tedious process that must be met, one long step at a time.

Last month, a book artist friend of mine, Benjamin Chandler (who is currently teaching in Slovakia) suggested I read The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner.

It is a good book which helped me understand in greater detail the number of steps I have left, and how long they may take. 
     Fist though, an update about where I am in the process. I have a manuscript, Good For Nothing. The writing took a long time. Sending it to readers and waiting for a critique felt like it took a long time. Some readers were unable to fit a critique into their schedules at all. In those cases, there were long months of waiting for feedback that never arrived. Then there were a number of rewrites. Now I am on my 5th and final re-write prior to submitting my manuscript to agents. 
     According to Lerner, the process should go like this: 
     Step 1) Write a query letter specific to each agent and agency that you intend to apply to. The research can be done via the website Publishersmarketplace.com . The site will charge a monthly fee of twenty dollars to gain access to their database. Personally, I have been building a list of agents, agencies and publishers for a couple of years. So I will start there. Lerner also suggests one submit to agencies as if one were applying to colleges. Namely, two pie-in-the-sky agents, two solid agents, and two safety agents. It seems like good advice to me and I intend to follow it. Though I will refrain from revealing who I consider to be safety agents. 
     Step 2) Submit to the agencies you've chosen, careful to follow each agencies submission guidelines to the letter. Then wait. You can expect to wait three to six months for  a reply. 
     Step 3) If you are lucky enough to place your manuscript with an agent, and then sign away 15% of your future profits, then you wait again for the the agent to find a publisher. 
     Step 4) After a publisher agrees to publish your work, expect at least nine more months, from the time a fairly complete manuscript is submitted, until the book is released to the public. 

     All this is enough to break anyones spirit. But, there seems to be no option but to keep moving forward. If I have any creative inclination left once the manuscripts are on the way to agencies, I will try to start on the next novel. 

On the upside, my book dealers have placed a few more of my visual books with individual collectors and a couple of Universities. I have had work in a few exhibitions recently, and am anxious to complete a new artist's book (Color Theory for Baby Boomers) that continues to grow, the longer I live with it. 

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