Check out this take on getting published, courtesy of Lynn Johnston, Canadian creator of the long-running comic strip/sap opera "For Better or For Worse." FBOFW is one of the few strips that actually acknowledges the passage of time, so kids get older, men go bald, pets die, etc. You know, typical funny paper hijinks.
Also typical of comic strips is their tendency to stretch out a few days worth of action into months and months of material. How much can you cram into something that takes about ten seconds to read, after all?
Still, I was caught off guard when the novel that Michael Patterson was writing was suddenly picked up for publication. Very few references were made to him actually writing it, although there was one strip devoted to the day he finished it. (Note to Lynn Johnston--the day after you finish your first novel is not the day you start shopping it).
We've never seen anyone actually read this novel, but one day, after the only copy of the mansucript is rescued from his burning apartment, he gets a letter--a letter--with a contract, offering him a $25K advance on his genreless, titleless tome. (Of course, keep in mind that $25K Canadian is like twelve bucks.) To my knowledge, this guy never wrote a single query letter, never received one form rejection from an agent, never attended a writer's conference and never joined a writer's group.
So congratulations, Michael Patterson, on the sale of your book to Mephistopheles Press.