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What I Didn’t Know

By Chontaé Cuellar @boldenough2say

When I penned my first book, I did it alone.

No mentorship, no tutorial, no guidance, no support. A spiral notebook and wooden pencils were all I had access to. My passion, thoughts and zeal were enough to, “get the project done” and catapult me to the New York Times Best Sellers list, which in turn would retire me from nursing!

Let’s just say the statement, “don’t quit your day job” became my reality for another fourteen years.

I had done some research about the publication process and knew that traditional publication was too costly. The thought of an agent taking up to 20% of the contracted agreement was unacceptable! Afterall, I had done all the work, right? Little did I know, agents have work of their own they must execute to “seal the deal”. Shouldn’t they be compensated for their time and service? Of course they should. Knowing how to connect with them was the key.

Who knew a query letter was required in order for them to consider your proposal? I certainly didn’t.

Then I discovered a self-publishing company, also known as a vanity press. Once I saw they were willing to accept my project, I thought I’d struck gold! The cost was very inexpensive and I was able to pay in full! Impressed with the marketing materials which consisted of 25 bookmarks, 50 business cards and a banner of my book on their website, I thought this was a big deal! I had no idea this would be the first red flag of several to follow. Again, without proper guidance, I began to lose hope about becoming an author. I became desperate.

The second red flag? There was no mention at all about editing the manuscript! Who accepts a project for publication and doesn’t mention the need for editing? Apparently this has been common practice for quite some time, preying on aspiring writers seeking to become published authors. Take it from someone who’s been there, editing is a must for your manuscript. It is well worth the investment.

There’s an abundance of resources, groups and content readily available for you to explore about this rewarding process! Don’t allow your lack of knowledge hinder your vision. You are in a position to learn what I didn’t know 13 years ago.

Learn the process, execute the plan.

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