A Note From the Personal Files of April Kempler: Unknown Author or How Long Does it Take to Get Published Anyway?

I get asked all the time How long did it take you to get published from inception to published book? I have an answer but it is a bit complicated. First, I will give the short answer: I started May 23, 2007, I will have a published book in hand November 13, 2013, so that is 6 years, 5 months, and 21 days. Math really isn’t my thing, so I hope my math is good on this.

These dates don’t tell the whole story of how it began or the long, and sometimes arduous journey it has been after signing a publisher’s contract. But, I will try to explain it as best I can.

Here is the longer version and I hope you stay with me. After finishing the manuscript I did what every author is told to NEVER do: Don’t send your entire manuscript to a publisher and for heaven’s sake don’t send one that hasn’t been properly edited! Yes, I blundered this one right from the get-go. I figured it was edited. I know how to spell and my husband read it and made all his little adjustments, so it was ready, right? Wrong. Only after I had delivered 174k, or so,  words in a large, and I mean LARGE, binder did I bother myself to read anything on how to actually get a publisher. Then in big, black and white letters I read: “Always hire a professional editor before submitting any manuscript.” Oh! A professional editor, like one I had to pay. I get it now! Silly me.

Then I realized no one in the professional author realm ever sends their entire manuscript to a publisher unedited, no one in the professional author realm ever refers to their manuscript by page number (blunder # 277). I fumbled and bumbled my way through this entire thing. There is a process to getting published, and had I learned it I might have saved myself a year or two and maybe several months. So after slogging through (all 417 pages) of my tome, the publisher called me for a meeting. The bottom line: get it edited and re-submit. This took additional time and research not to mention weeks, turning into months of waiting for the edits to be complete.

From reliable sources I read that the average time for an unknown author to get published is around 5 years. By some miracle the publisher still was interested in the manuscript after all the false starts and offered me a contract. If you count the time to signing the contract (which is considered being published) then I come in around 4 years, and approximately 5 months. That is near average for an unknown author so I’m pleased. But somewhere along the way I had managed to cause some concerns for the publisher. After handing in my copy of the contract, with all my changes in bold, black ink, I was told that they were rescinding their offer.

Wait! What?

What had I done wrong? Aside from everything in the beginning, what had I done wrong to get myself out of a cherished and much anticipated publishing contract? I thoroughly researched it. I read books, asked questions, hired an attorney. Perhaps it was the myriad of changes I made to the contract (I might have gone overboard), or perhaps it was the rights I wanted to reserve without a good reason (e.g. could I actually hope to secure publishing rights in Turkey? No. Impossible. I have zero connections for  getting my book published in the middle east!) whatever it was, it sent up some kind of red flag and just like snuffing out a candle, my publishing dreams went up in smoke. I was free to roam about the country to find another publisher.

Did I rant and rave, break down sobbing WHY? No, for the first time I behaved like a professional. I wrote a nice letter thanking the publisher for all their work, all their advice they had given me over the course of several months. I thanked them for giving me the opportunity to be published and I hoped we could remain friends, in a business sense.

I’ll skip ahead, about two weeks later I received a message from the publisher saying they would like to revisit the terms of the contract.

They were giving me another chance!

I couldn’t believe it. But first they wanted to, yes — maybe you have figured this out already — rewrite the contract. I had to wait some time for this, another 5 months, or so. Then the day came, which according to my contract was: March 27, 2012, I was legit, I was a published writer.  So from signed contract to book release it will be 1 year 7 months, and 17 days, but who’s counting?

I have come to understand one thing about the publishing world. It is that everyone’s publishing journey is different. Some paths chosen are shorter and some longer. But each writer, published or unpublished, self-published or traditionally published, has a similar goal: to get our written words out there into the universe. Hopefully to be read, enjoyed, cherished. Hopefully to give pause for thought. Or create an emotion (love, sympathy, anger, shock, horror), or to learn something we never knew before. Hopefully to share something of ourselves with another person. That is what it’s all about isn’t it? We write to encourage one another, to inspire one another, to sharpen each other.

What has your writing journey been like? Are you a published author? How long did it take you?

Or, are you hoping to be published some day?  What are your goals to getting published? I would love to hear about it in the comments section, don’t be shy, share!


One response to “A Note From the Personal Files of April Kempler: Unknown Author or How Long Does it Take to Get Published Anyway?

  1. Pingback: How I found My Editor in a Barnes and Noble Bookstore | Reno Gal Says

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