Well, the waiting game continues. I'm speaking of my attempt to get my manuscript published. I finished it in mid-September and began my publishing pursuits in earnest shortly thereafter. There are many ways to go about getting your book published, and so I consulted a friend of mine who is in the publishing business and asked him what my options were. He said there were essentially three routes you could take, or at least three that he recommends to people that he works with. I describe them below in the suggested order of pursuit. The first is the most desirable, the last being the least.
The first route was what he referred to as the agented route. That route involves soliciting the services of an agent, preferably a New York agent. The agent then works for you and pushes your book to various publishing houses in an attempt to get them to publish it. While you still have to write your query letter, synopsis and marketing plan, they do the "hard work" of convincing publishers that your work is worth a look. This is the "traditional" route that all the big, successful writers (though not all of them) end up taking.
The second route would be to try and market or agent the book yourself. This means that you would approach the small presses and publishing houses on your own. It requires that you have a decent marketing plan, synopsis, query letter and are confident that you can sell them on the idea of your book. Many publishers don't take unagented queries or solicitations, so it narrows down your options a little, but in the case where you can't seem to land an agent, it's a good fall-back plan.
The third route involves self publishing. It is where you take your manuscript to one of the many self-publishing services and get it published. Then, they allow you to put it up to Amazon for purchase and you are left to market and promote the book entirely on your own. I have no shame in saying this is what one would call a last resort solution. I've heard from enough people that if you aren't willing to take your lumps the hard way through traditional channels, you might cut your nose off to spite your face, for any future publishing you might want to do.
I don't want to dis self publishing entirely. I think there are some great stories of people who have had long successful careers after a self publishing start, but I think they are, by far, the minority. The mantra I've heard is that anyone can self-pub, and oftentimes the writing shows it.
The other route, that is an offshoot of the self publishing scenario is what is called a vanity publisher. This is self publishing on steroids. For significant fees, the vanity publishing house helps you get your book published. The name implicates it for what it is. Again, IMHO, it's not recommended, but perhaps you get a bit more respectability because there is a "house" name attached to the book. It's up to you however to try and sell enough of your books to recoup your own (not the "house's") investment.
So I wait. I've currently got book queries in to about eighteen agents and twenty publishing houses. About once a week I get a rejection, some nice, some brief and cold. When I do, I try and match it with a new query to take its place. I know a writer who said she got close to 70 rejections before her book was accepted. 70! It seems I'll need to develop a thick skin and grind this out for a while. I'm confident that it will happen. I don't know when, but when it does, it'll be EPIC!