Guest blogger – Bettina Restrepo on her road to publication

Check-in: Between yesterday and today, I finished the current revision of my first novel. Yay! Now I just need to find some beta readers for it. But my next writing goal is back onto novel number 2, which I’ll be hitting hard to still keep my goal of finishing by the end of September.

Today, I invited Bettina Restrepo to guest blog. Bettina’s debut book, a picture book called Moose and Magpie, was launched recently, and it’s really cute. She did some great innovative things with it, blending a fun story with factual tidbits. Check it out when you get a chance.

As I always find it fascinating to hear about authors’ stories of perservance to publication, I asked Bettina to give us hers. So, without further ado, here’s Bettina:

I believe writing is art and publishing is business and the two mix like oil and water.

My publication path involved writing for magazines, beginning a novel in 2002 (then submitting it about 15 times when it wasn’t ready), being involved with great critique groups, attending as many conferences and classes as possible and reading voraciously. 

It also involved life.  I needed to grow.  I needed patience.  When I first entered this vocation, I wanted everything NOW and TODAY.  I wasn’t ready and thank goodness it didn’t happen.

I landed an agent.  Mr. Wrong.  I got rejected everywhere.  I wrote a second novel.  Mr. Wrong stopped talking to me, so I fired him.  I dove into depression.  I wrote more magazine articles.  I rewrote novel number one.  I went to TLA and make a joke to a publisher about a moose and wrote a picture book.

They said yes.  I nearly pee’d my pants, but I got to work.  I didn’t want this to be my only book.  I wanted to finish my novel.  I needed a website.  I needed to build a school program.  I needed to figure out how to market a book. 

These things took almost two years.  TWO YEARS!!!!  

MOOSE and MAGPIE was born.

I hit the ground running.  In the mean time, I landed the agent.  Ms. Lioness-of-Gold.  She asked me the best questions, I revised.  I signed.  We sold – to Harper Collins.  We’re now revising my second novel, with the third in the works. 

With complete confidence.  I have a new sense of purpose in the writing world.  My moose gave me a push to get things in motion that I had been working on for years.

It took me years to figure this out because I come from a business background where we described things in QUARTERS, and NOW, and TODAY.  Here are a few ideas I think are handy. 

Tips about publishing:

  1. The average wait time from acceptance of manuscript to publication is about 3 years.
  2. 98% of manuscripts in the slush pile won’t get more than 3 minutes of look time.[1]
  3. Many publishing houses will not answer your mail or your phone calls.  (it’s not that they don’t like you.)
  4. You need an agent to get the best deal.
  5. It’s harder to get an agent than to get a deal.
  6. Yes, you need connections and to go to conferences.  But, the work must speak for itself. 
  7. Re-read #6.  It’s not about the personality. 
  8. Learn that time has no relevance until you get your editorial letter (about a million years from now).  Then, everything needs to be done YESTERDAY.
  9. Treat your business and your art as two separate entities.  Spend carefully.  Cultivate wisely.
  10. Keep working and revising.  You never know when you hit pay dirt.   

Moose and Magpie, Sylvan Dell Publishing, debuted this summer.   You can reach Bettina at Bettina@bettinarestrepo.com

[1] From the accurate methodology of drunken editors in very loud bars being asked this question over ten years.  I value my objectivity and mathematical prowess.

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