Seven Reasons Publishing is Basically Baby-Making by Lara Willard

Photo credit: ilyoungko on Flickr
To give aspiring authors some context when they receive rejections, I've compared querying to dating. Not everyone is a good fit for everyone else! Here I expand that metaphor to put into perspective the entire labor and delivery of publishing, starting at the very beginning: with the awkward years.

  1. Puberty. Writing itself is a solitary effort, a self-searching process. First drafts are always awkward, and they need some time—and plenty of revision— to mature. Friends can give you a makeover like CPs can critique your manuscript, but it's up to you to decide what to accept and what isn't you.

  2. Dating. Once you agree your manuscript is mature enough, it's time to start looking for a baby daddy an agent. Every meet-cute is different. Some writers meet agents at conferences or through a friend. Most find agents through query letters, which is pretty similar to creating an online dating profile. Agents are looking for personality, something they connect with. They're also looking for red flags.

  3. Falling in love. Your agent needs to LOVE your book, not just admire it, because he or she will be spending a lot of time with it. Someday an agent will crush on your writing so much, he or she is going to call you and ask you out to represent you. During the call, ask plenty of questions (see below) to decide whether this is Mr. or Ms. Right.

  4. Tying the knot. Accepting your agent’s representation means signing a contract. Ideally, your relationship with your agent will last through your career. To make that relationship work, remember, this isn’t an arranged marriage. You aren’t a mail-order bride or groom. You don't actually work for each other. You need to work together. Make your expectations known. How often will you communicate? How editorial will your agent be? Will this agent represent any other genres or age categories you write?

  5. Pregnancy. Submission to acquisitions editors can range from several weeks to many months, but no matter how long this gestation period is, the wait is agonizing. You make a birth plan—Ideally, what house would you pick to publish your book? Eventually you will get your book deal, but not until after plenty of ice-cream gorging.

  6. Nesting. Once you’ve got a publisher interested, you can really start getting ready for your book to be born. Ava recently blogged about this time between book deal and due date, from covers to blurbs to debut groups.

  7. Birthday. Everything has led to this moment. It's OK to cry. Or scream. Your loved ones will celebrate the achievement with you.

No publishing story is exactly the same, and every subsequent baby book will have its own labor and delivery time, either with the same agent or a new one, with a different house or at home (self publishing).

Each book published adds a new title to your biography, another line to your obituary. Not every book you write will be published—but each one written is something to be proud of.

Lara “Book Doula” Willard has published fiction, poetry, comics, essays, and two sons. When not editing manuscripts, she coaches writers on their dating profiles query letters. In July, she hosts pg70pit, the writing contest that ditches pitches and spotlights voice. Her blog and Twitter account @LaraEdits help thousands of writers each year.

Twitter-sized bites: 
How is publishing like baby-making? @LaraEdits explains in 7 milestones. (Click to tweet)  
From puberty to baby's birthday, @LaraEdits explains how publishing is like baby-making. (Click to tweet)

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