Guest blogger Marlene Samuels on getting published through a fluke.
Until recently, my writing has been academic and this type of book, especially PhD dissertations, have an easier time finding publication, however usually very limited runs with an academic press. Self-publishing has become a more realistic option for writers who aren’t always able to secure an agent. The success of self-published books has been advanced by increased access to internet-based public relations. The up-side: buzz is easier to obtain and more accessible. The bad news: each day, that medium is becoming more competitive.
My first non-academic book, The Seamstress: A Memoir of Survival, was published first by a conventional press. That was a fluke and done without an agent, a perfect example of meeting someone, who knows someone, who knows someone at a publisher. So you can and should tell anyone who will listen that you've written a book – only if you really have finished it or are almost finished. You should follow up with anyone who tells you they "know someone at a publisher" or has a friend whose uncle works at a literary agency, etc. I almost let my opportunity drop since I didn’t want to 1) seem like a pest, 2) waste my time with possible frauds, and 3) risk having someone read and then hate my work.
To learn more about Marlene, check out her blog at www.marlenesamuels.blogspot.com