Publishing is frustrating and terrifying

I want to be published; I think most writers who actually write (there are some who don't, believe it or not) set out to have someone in the publishing world see what they've done and want to put money, time and effort into it. I think that the idea of pouring yourself into a book and then wanting to have it be recognized is pretty common.

That being said, it's very difficult!

I have been reading more on publishing again and it seems to be pretty scary and backward. It seems that no two sites can decide on what's true and what's right. Information is contradictory at best and brain-breaking at worst. I can't seem to figure out what I should be doing or what's right for me. I also find that many agents and publishers seem to want to punish you for being interested in them.

I don't mind the idea of writing a synopsis or writing a query letter. It hasn't been fun, but I understand that it makes more sense for a prospective representative--whether that rep be a publisher or an agent--to only have to read two pages, instead of two hundred to see if my work is up their alley. I understand that I should be researching what a future rep wants before I just start sending my work to every publisher/agent out there. I write something specific, so it's not unreasonable to think that someone else might only represent something specific.

Here's where we get murky. Here's where it gets frustrating.

Every agent, even agents who may represent the same genre, want different things. Same with publishers. What I think of as being my genre doesn't necessarily line up with what publishers think is my genre. Some think only a book much longer than what I write is acceptable; some think I write too much. I'm running into a lot of conflicting information on what's what and where to look. Searching for an agent or a publisher is like trying to herd drunken elephants; they're all way bigger than me and can crush me like a bug, but they seem disorganized as an industry.

Then there's the time aspect. The general consensus seems to be that you should not submit your work to more than one place at a time. I'm reading a lot of things like, "never submit to a publisher if you are submitting to agents; never submit to more than one publisher at a time; never submit to more than one agent at a time." But, of course, everyone is far too busy to get back to you in under a six to twelve week time period. So, if you're lucky, you'll get a response from four agents/publishers in one year. This, combined with the fact that every author I've come across explains that they got rejected MANY times before being accepted makes me honestly question how anyone gets published under the age of 80. If I'm to get one hundred rejections at a rate of four per year, where does that leave me?

I just want to sit down with, say, five published authors and ask them EXACTLY what their road was. How long did it take them to figure out what they were supposed to do? How long did it take them to come up with a query they found satisfactory? Did they go through an agent or straight to a publisher? How long did it take them to hear back? How many rejection letters did they get? How many did they sent out at once? Once they got an agent, how long did it take to sell? If they went straight to a publisher, how much fighting was there regarding the book/cover? What sort of publicity did they get? Do they regret going that route, or would they rather have gone self-pub? Etc, etc.

I'm not looking for a secret get-published-quick-scheme, or some buzz word to use that will guarantee me a contract. I just want information that makes sense. I want to know from people who have done it what hardships they endured and what they learned from it. I want consistency and answers.

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