Another Project in the Works…
Greetings Gear-heads! I am very excited to tell you about a new project. I am beginning work on The Steampunk Handbook, a nonfiction reference book for Steampunk writers, makers and fans chock full of tasty historical tidbits and practical advice like “How to buy a corset”. The Steampunk Bible is a great book that is about the Steampunk subculture itself, but my aim is to craft a book about the underpinnings of the genre rather than the genre itself. I am going to write biographies of famous figures (both real and fictional), explore pastimes during the “steam era” and expand the articles on cultural movements and “How to Punk Your Steam” that have appeared on this site.
I had the idea for this book at the beginning of the month. A quick Googling showed me that for a nonfiction book you don’t need a finished manuscript like you do for a novel or other fictional work. A few days of obsessively working and getting feedback from others, I had a query letter and a book proposal ready to go and found some agents to send queries. I was incredibly fortunate to hear back from an agent only 45 minutes after I sent a query, and now I have representation through a big firm in NYC! After everything I was reading on the web I figured it would be weeks if not months before I heard from anyone, so you can imagine my surprise and joy when the response was to fast and so positive. I feel like this is more proof that people don’t necessarily get “what they deserve” they get “what they ask for.”
I know this is a bit of a Cinderella story when it comes to the publishing world, and there is still a long road to go before my idea actually would become a book, but I wanted to take the opportunity to offer some encouragement and advice to others. Here are a few things that I have learned so far in this process.
- Working hard is all well and good, but don’t forget to work smart as well. It’s not enough to have a great idea, you also have to put in the time to examine the market, and say why your idea is not only good, but unique and marketable.
- Finding an agent is a big hurtle, so give yourself the best chance. I did a lot of research about potential agents, and I especially focused on new agents who would be the most likely to be looking for new clients. The Writers Digest offers tons of great resources for writers to learn more about the publishing industry, and they regularly do profiles on new agents.
- There is also a great site that publishes the Twitter feed of #MSWL (manuscript wishlist). This is a way that agents advertise the types of books they are looking to represent, and makes it easy to connect with them through their websites and blogs.
- Follow the instructions! Each agency is different and ask for you to submit your materials in different ways. Most of them begin by asking for a query letter, and then they will contact you for a proposal (nonfiction) or manuscript (fiction) only after they are intrigued by your first contact, which is only a few sentences long. Polish your “elevator pitch” and run it by other people to get feedback even though it is short.
Best of luck to you on your own journey to publishing!
Do you have a story you of the good, the bad, or the ugly in publishing that you’d like to share? Leave a comment below!