How I Became A Traditionally Published Author
By Michael Solomowitz
So you’ve always dreamed of having a novel published?
For some of us, we’ve been daydreaming about that for decades, since sitting in a fifth-grade classroom, bored with our teacher and the topic, wondering how wonderful life would be if someone referred to us as “writer” or, sometime later, notified us that we’re being considered for the Pulitzer in literature.
It’s a nice dream to have but how do you make it a reality?
Well, these days, one of the ways is actually not that difficult if you don’t have anything against self-publishing. Plenty of authors do it and some even successfully. It just means doing a lot of the schlep work yourself — and there is a lot to consider — or paying someone else to do it.
1. Write a book (it helps if it’s fascinating, unique and well written)
2. Have people read it and offer feedback (that don’t have the same last name as you)
But what about becoming a traditionally published author?
That means finding a publisher to take on some of the heavy-lifting such as designing the cover, editing, formatting, and, if you’re lucky, the dreaded marketing.
Of course, signing with the right agent to be your go-between (give you good advice and get you some real advance money) is like hitting the mother lode. But we’re not going there because I haven’t been there. Yet.
But, I did find a publisher to take me on and publish my book so I will discuss that. It just didn’t happen right away.
My first novel, Dante’s Sin, took six years to write. I didn’t actually take six years to write it — more like two — but then I spent about four years in between, avoiding it. It’s a modern version of Dante’s Divine Comedy, a satire really, which, I found out, might be the most difficult genre to sell. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time.
3. Don’t write Satire (unless your name is Aristophanes, Voltaire or Twain)
Once I finished and edited the book, I developed the mandatory query letter and synopsis and sent it out to 82 literary agents. Eighty-two. I got plenty of rejections and one — count them, 1 — personal response that actually made a couple of suggestions on the manuscript and wished me luck. Bye bye, Dante.
So my first novel turned out to be a six-year learning curve. But learning genres and what sells a book is part of the process of becoming a professional author so I’m glad I was able to benefit somewhat from my failure.
4. Read lots of books (especially in the genre you want to write)
5. Just read lots of books (it will make you a more complete writer)
I had more luck with my second novel, Behind The Fourth Wall. It’s a Psychological Family Drama about forgiveness, second chances, overcoming grief, and an inappropriate relationship with a paranormal-mystery twist. Here is the back cover blurb to give you a better idea of the story. It’s a good read but don’t take my word for it.
“A cleverly written tale that delivers a riveting plot wrapped in a tightly-paced narrative … filled with … wonderfully flawed characters who stay with you long after the last page.” — Karoline Barrett, author of Raisin the Dead
“Powerful and poignant, with mystical elements … A five star read that tears at your heartstrings.”
— Liz Berg, author of Jewish Folk Tales in Britain and Ireland
“A compelling read, Behind The Fourth Wall, is one man’s emotional journey from the depths of despair.” — Jeanie Roberts, author of The Heron
There were similar query letters and agent rejections but this time I also sent it out to dozens of publishers and finally got the response I was looking for.
6. If 100 publishers turn you down, send it out to a 100 more
7. But first rewrite the query letter and synopsis (no use wasting your time or theirs)
I’ve spent most of the pandemic year taking webinars on book promotion, blogging, finding reviewers, social media ads, book signings, libraries, and am deep into the process of trying to get my book “out there” so that people can read about and, well, order it.
8. Do the work (it’s not just about writing a book anymore)
Behind The Fourth Wall is releasing on January 13, 2022 and I’m very excited. So, while I work on my forthcoming novel, a story based on post-war Coney Island, I continue to work on promotions — answering emails and doing interviews, setting up book signings, and marketing it with tried and untried methods — so that my book finds its way to more readers. I’m hoping when that happens that I’ll have agents knocking on my, well, contacting me, and that means next time there will be less schlep work to do on my part.
9. Don’t give up on promoting your book (it’s a long-term proposition)
The best advice I can offer you is this — write an article or a book or a play or whatever because you love doing it. If you have confidence you can make a living at it, then go for it. If you don’t, then get a job to pay your bills and write on the side. Either way, keep reading books because they open your mind to explore new ways of looking at things, expand your vocabulary, gives you ideas to write about, and makes you a more informed person. All good.
10. Don’t be afraid to fail — the biggest regret you can have in life is not trying (I’m paraphrasing here because I didn’t write that originally)
11. Be honest about things (lying only gets you into trouble)
Contact Michael Solomowitz at michaelsolomowitz.com and let him know what you thought of his book. Also, please consider leaving an honest review at Goodreads or where you purchased the book. Behind The Fourth Wall is available at most online bookstores.