Monday, November 15, 2010

Want to Get Published?

Mike Lynch currently resides in the Bay Area with his wife and two children. He graduated from San Jose State University in 1986, and then from San Jose Christian College in 1994. Mike’s first book, Dublin, published by Arcadia Publishing, came out in 2007, and When the Sky Fell, published by Silver Leaf Books, was published in 2009. He has also written a host of short stories, one of which, “Beyond Horizon’s Edge,” took 1st place in the 2009 Preditors & Editors Reader’s Poll. American Midnight, also published by Silver Leaf Books, came out in June 2010. His next novel, After the Cross, is scheduled to be released by Ellechor Publishing in 2011. He is currently working on his next novel, The Crystal Portal.


It’s been said everyone has at least one book in them. Perhaps this is an overstatement, but I would venture to guess that most people have wondered at one time or another if they had it within them to write the Great American Novel. I was no exception.

Mind you, my first inkling came in 1981 as a fresh-faced 19-year-old who hadn’t the slightest idea what to do with his life. Despite this seeming setback, I pulled out my trusty typewriter and began pounding away on an epic science fiction tale of sacrifice, betrayal, and one man’s desperate journey to have humanity from destruction against a powerful alien race.

After months of diligent work, I did it. I had written a novel. However, as I read through the manuscript I discovered a mountain of spelling errors, cardboard characters, and disheveled plot elements. To put it plainly, my manuscript was a mess. The thought of revising the story felt so overwhelming to me that I promptly shelved it and moved on with my life, or so I thought.

As the years passed I couldn’t get the story out of my head, so I took another crack at it in 1996, this time on my newly acquired Macintosh computer. I dusted off my manuscript and set about fixing all the previously stated problems in the novel. Eight years came and went before a passable story finally emerged. Now, I believed, my book was ready. Or so I thought.

I did what all hopeful writers do to get the ball rolling, I wrote a manuscript proposal and sent it to every publisher and agent I thought might be remotely interested in my novel. It didn’t take long for the rejection letters to start appearing in my mailbox. Undaunted, I sent out another batch of proposals. Sadly, the results were the same—they all passed on my novel. When I heard about a local writer’s conference in 2005, I gave that a try, hoping face-to-face meetings with acquisition editors and literary agents might change my luck, but they weren’t interested either. I went to the same conference the following year, but the results were the same.

With no more prospects to pursue, I seriously contemplated giving up writing. I tried my best, given it two solid years of sending out proposal after proposal, but I figured I just didn’t have what it took to be a writer. But before I hung up my dreams of being a published author, I decided to give it one last try, and contacted an author I had recently met on the Internet—Brandon Barr.

Like me, he had a strong interest in science fiction. We also had similar goals as writers, and our writing styles were compatible with each other’s. On paper it seemed like a good match, and so I made a deal with him. If he agreed to re-edit the entire novel, I would make him a co-author.

Fast-forward six months, and we were finally ready to send out the newly-edited version of the story. Like before, it didn’t take long for the rejection letters started pouring in. To say I was discouraged would be an understatement. Even with the help of another writer, it still wasn’t happening, until one day in December 2006 when an envelope arrived in the mail from Silver Leaf Books. To my utter astonishment they wanted to publish our book. I cannot tell you the feelings that swept over me at that moment, most of it centering on disbelief. I had beaten the odds. I had found a publisher When the Sky Fell.

As my story attests, finding a publisher is a lengthy, laborious process. To a land a publisher takes a first-time author—on average—six years. Statistics say only one percent of all novelists will ever see their story in print. This is a sobering reality, but it has been this way from the beginning. There will always be far more hopeful novelists than there are publishing houses willing to take a financial risk on them.

For those committed to beating the odds, a strong belief in yourself and your story is absolutely essential. Perseverance is a word you become intimately acquainted with along the way. You have to keep going—no matter how many publishers pass on your work. According to “Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul,” Louis L’Amour received 350 rejections before selling his first story, and Jack London received 600. Today, they are respected authors. Why? Because they didn’t give up.

So write that book lurking in the back of your mind and send it out. Rejection letters will come, but stay committed. If you are persistent enough, you just may find that one publisher who loves your novel as much as you do.


BK said...

I always figured it would be cool to write a science fiction novel. I love stuff like Star Trek and Stargate. Only problem is--I hate science. I figure that's a deal breaker for that genre. But it has to be way cool to create your own worlds....

Mike Lynch said...

BK, thanks for stopping by. The nice thing about writing science fiction is that you can create any world your imagination comes up with. In my case, my story has stellar cruisers, faster than light travel, advanced alien races, and instant communication across great distances. That all goes against science, but I make it work in my story. So you don't have to have a science background to write science fiction. Just make your world sound credible, and everyone will believe it.