We have a guest blogger today! John Milton Langdon, author of the historical fiction novel, Against All Odds, is here with us to talk about the top five things he’s learned about publishing. Enjoy!
by John Milton Langdon
1. When I finished writing my first book back in 2005, I still held the old fashioned belief that I needed to attract the attention of an agent in order to gain access to a publisher. I bought a copy of the ‘Writers and Artists Year Book’ and after many days of study I developed a long list of agents who handled books in the field of historical fiction. I cannot remember how many letters I wrote, but it was an appreciable number. The response was disappointing as the few agents who did reply, generally wrote that they could take no more new authors. Clearly searching for an agent was a waste of time and a new approach was required.
2. Research on the internet produced a bewildering assortment of sites offering vastly different degrees of support for new authors wishing to publish independently. After reviewing a large number of possibilities I decided on one that seemed to give me everything I wanted and entered into a publishing contract. This company has published all four of my books and has given me complete satisfaction. I knew that book promotion was not included in my contract but I seriously underestimated the difficulties I would face on my own. Next time I want to publish a book, I will have to find a better way to promote it.
3. The next obstacle to progress was that my book was too long. It had never occured to me that my publisher would have a page limit and the book I submitted had a page count almost twice the maximum permitted. I was fortunate because I was able to convert the original manuscript into two books without too much effort, but it was another lesson learnt. In a similar vein I approached the buyer of a book store chain and was told that they wouldn’t stock my books as they were the wrong size! They are actually industry standard, so I’m not really sure what the buyer’s problem could have been.
4. The process of publication is straight forward and logical but it has to be done meticulously. I read the manuscript for my first volume many times before and during the editing process, and was happy to sign that it was error free before it was printed. It fact it wasn’t error free, and I learnt the hard way that I hadn’t been meticulous enough.
5. When you are desperate to hold your first book in your hands, it is very difficult to be patient, but it is a skill that has to be learnt and exercised. Publishing a book is not a quick process and trying to force the pace only causes problems down the line.
John Milton Langdon is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and has a master’s degree in maritime civil engineering. Langdon retired and became a professional writer after an active and rewarding engineering career. Initially he worked in Britain but from 1972 until 2008, he dealt with project development in Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Nigeria. Langdon lives in the Austrian town of Klagenfurt which has a history stretching back to mediaeval times. Langdon has three children and five grandchildren from his first marriage and two step sons from the second. Langdon has many interests including travel, the British canals, music and literature but hiking in the mountains surrounding his home is a preferred leisure activity.
John’s latest book is a historical fiction titled Against All Odds (Tate Publishing).
You can visit John Milton Langdon’s website at www.jmlangdon.com.