You made it. It’s finally that time in your writing career to put all of your hard work to the test. It’s time to get published! So what does it take? What are publishers looking for? What steps do you need to follow? I won’t lie, it’s going to be a trying process of more hard work, rejection, and more waiting – but don’t let that deter you. You’ve come this far and now it’s time to show the world what you have created. Trust me, if you spend time honing your writing, making sure the final product is in tip-top shape and you follow these steps below – you will find a publisher in time. If you think you’d like to publish an E-book instead of in print, it’s a similar, but easier process.
Speaking of time, you’ll need to set aside a lot of it. After you wrap out the final pages of your book consider walking away from it for a couple of weeks. I know, I know, this seems almost impossible to do after all the months and hours you’ve spent attached at the hip with this manuscript, and that’s precisely why you need to take a break. In order to read over the finished product and be a good self-critic, you’re going to need to detach yourself from it for a little. After you two week hiatus you can come back with a fresh set of eyes and make sure everything is the way it should be and clean up any errors there may be.
2. Write a synopsis.
Typically, you want to write a synopsis no longer than one page for every 25 pages of manuscript. This is just going to be a concise summary of your book. A synopsis is super handy as you shop around for agents or publishers. Plus, you can share it with friends and family who may not have time to read the whole book but want to know what you’re up to. Your synopsis should start off strong, introducing the main hook and protagonist of your novel. Continue with your summary and make sure you allow key characters to be introduced along with their motivation. Check out novel synopsis writing tips.
3. Query letter.
Alright, synopsis in hand, it’s time to go on and write yet another piece regarding your completed manuscript. The query letter is arguably the most important component of the publishing process. Consider this letter your first impression with a publisher or an agent. Make sure this letter is only one page long. I know this seems so impossible because you have so much to say, but your future agents and publishers don’t have time to read a million pages for every inquiry they receive. You want to stand out, so make sure to mention any and all relevant qualifications. If you don’t have any, glorify the experience you do have. Explain what your book is about. This should resemble the summary on the back of most books, you know, the one or two really captivating paragraphs that make you want to read it. This is the most important. Without an intriguing story line, regardless of your qualifications, the agent or publisher may just toss the letter. Also mention who you expect your audience to be, show them that you have thought about your market and understand your place in it. Here’s a sample query letter.
4. Find an Agent.
You may be wondering whether or not obtaining an agent is crucial to your success. In most cases, unfortunately, it is. Here’s why. Many publishers are wary of taking time and resources to look over manuscripts that aren’t being shopped by trustworthy agents. They depend on these agents to weed out the weak and push through the strong. If you attempt to send your manuscript to a publisher unagented and you don’t have really strong qualifications, it can be a quite difficult to get your foot in the door. Finding an agent can be just as tiring as trying to find a publisher or finishing your book. You are going to have to shop around for someone to represent you by sending your book synopsis and a query letter.
Before you begin arbitrarily sending your proposal to agents around the world – do research. Make sure the agents you are asking to represent you have a vested interest in your genre and are reputable. Instead of signing on the first agent that agrees to represent you (this is tempting – I know!) make sure you know their publishing record and double check to see if they are a part of any agent organizations like Association of Author’s Representatives in the US or the Association of Author’s Agents in the UK. Also, agents should not charge you fees for representing them. They earn commission based on how many copies of your book sells once it’s published. They may ask you to pay remedial fees like photocopying or postage but that’s it. Here is a list of agents to get you started. If you would rather go the self-publish route – kudos, it’ll be hard, but it could be worth it. Here’s how to self-publish in a weekend.
5. Revisit the proposal.
So, you managed to land an agent – and that’s awesome. Now, listen to them. They do this for a living and understand what publishers are looking for and they understand how to make you look the best you can. I mean, after all, their salary depends on you, too. Let them guide you through rewriting or editing your query letter or synopsis. The more enthusiastic they are about the proposal, the easier it will be for them to sell it to a publisher. Of course, don’t make revisions that you aren’t comfortable with but remember to be open-minded.
6. Research publishers
If you have an agent, this will mostly be done for you. This doesn’t mean you need to sit back and do nothing. Be active in this process, if for nothing else you’ll know how to do it by yourself next time you need to. If you don’t have an agent – get ready to buckle down because this process is going to be long and hard. Start off by finding books that are similar to yours in genre, content, audience, etc. The publishers of these books are a good place to start looking for a publisher of your own. Find out what the requirements are for submitting a query and follow them to a T. Publishers aren’t going to give you a second glance if you cannot follow simple directions for submitting a proposal. Also, network. Maybe a friend of a friend knows someone who might be related to a publisher. Make the connection. No effort is unworthy, you never know what might come from it!
7. Send out Queries.
This is only the most exciting and nerve-racking part of the whole process. Once you’ve revised your query letter, your synopsis and you’ve secured an agent – it’s time to start shopping. Let your agent handle all of this as they now represent you and will negotiate with the publishers to get you signed. While you are nail-biting, waiting for a response, work on other projects. Don’t just sit by the phone like a nut waiting for it to ring, you will drive yourself insane. Start another project to keep you occupied. Plus, it’s productive and that will make you feel good about life.
If this all sounds totally overwhelming it’s because it is. It’s a lot of hard work after already putting in a lot of hard work to write your book. If you need some more guidance, find it in publish your book guaranteed.