Ignore No Opportunity: How I Found My Publisher – @justine_manzano

There are plenty of traditional routes towards getting published, and when I started shopping out my manuscript for The Order of the Key, Book 1 of my series, Keys and Guardians, I systematically went through all of them.

  • Cold query agents? Check!
  • Spend hundreds on an informative Writer’s Conference with the added benefit of pitching to various agents? Check (thanks to my day job’s Christmas bonus)!
  • Chatted with an agent I met? Check (Lesson: I’m awkward. My husband is MORE awkward.)!
  • Ask published writer buddy to hook a sister up? Check!
  • Cold submit directly to small presses? Checkity-check!

I was hitting brick walls left and right. Even when I got a step closer, pitches leading to partial manuscripts ended up leading to zilch. I wasn’t at it for very long, but I’ll admit that I was beginning to get discouraged. I’m an efficient organizer, which means that in six short months I managed to rack up an impressive number of rejections.

I don’t want to give you that number. It feels like failure even though you know it’s not necessarily about the story, but a question of agent/publisher taste.

I had just gotten through a conversation with a writer friend, asking him if he would be game for a second round of beta reads (he had been unavailable for the first set) because I was beginning to think something was wrong with the story. I actually said, “When this next round of rejections comes in…” with absolute certainty. I hadn’t given up. Order wasn’t going back on the shelf. I just had to admit it was time for a new plan of attack.

And then came Twitter’s Sci-Fi Fantasy Pitch Event, #SFFPit. I didn’t plan for it. I didn’t even know it was happening until the day of the event. That morning, I plugged in a really bad, cut down version of my logline and tweeted. Nothing. Radio silence. I wasn’t surprised. What could a tweet do for me? I didn’t see how I could sum up my story in 140 characters when I had a hard enough time writing a two page synopsis. I expected nothing.

I did a quick Twitter check before I left my desk at my day job and saw that some people were still accepting twit pitches in earlier time zones. Shrugging on my coat, I lazily tapped out a tweet that felt more like commercial copy than an actual pitch.

You see that Favorite? That one lonely favorite? Can you imagine what I could have accomplished if I put a little more thought into it? It didn’t matter though. What mattered was that my publisher saw something they liked. That’s right. I said MY PUBLISHER. This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

The lesson here lies in my question. What could I do with a tweet? I could get myself published, that’s what. Every little opportunity that crosses your path is a shot. All of those things I mentioned up at the top? All valid methods of getting an agent or a publisher. But so was the one thing I thought would do nothing for me.

Keep your eyes open. Be mindful. If you see even the most paper thin thread hanging, grab it and see if you can climb your way to the top. It may not hold you at all, or it may carry you just long enough to grab a thicker rope. But you’ll never know if you just leave it dangling.

Happy Writing!


JuJustine Manzano Picstine Manzano is a multi-genre writer living in Bronx, NY with her husband, son, and a cacophony of cats. She maintains a semi-monthly blog at JustineManzano.com and a twitter account @justine_manzano, where she discusses her adventures in juggling motherhood, writing, and the very serious businesses of fangirling and multiple forms of geekery. The Order of the Key, the first book of her YA Fantasy series Keys and Guardians has been contracted for publication by Distinguished Press and will be available for purchase in Summer 2015.

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