By Lisa Brown
Or is it the drive to make a living from your passions that got you writing a book?
You probably have a stack of numerous written pages in your drawer or stored on your computer.
One thought that keeps you up every night, all night is, what does it take to be published?
There are different publishing routes and publishing companies.
The dream of most writers is to land a traditional publisher. In this arrangement, the publisher pays you royalties and an advance as he or she assumes all costs.
In that, you get paid by the publisher for the publishing rights of your work. You can also choose to self-publish or hire a service that charges you to publish your material.
One thing you need to keep in mind is that the publishing journey is a long haul.
Drawing the attention of a traditional publisher
How do you find a publisher for your first book by taking the traditional route?
To get published, you don’t need to have connections in the industry. Even though having referrals, communities, and contacts can be of great help.
Many publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts from first-time authors for many types of books, and especially for fiction books.
For those who do, they usually relegate the manuscripts to first readers. It is often the task of interns.
A good first-reader can determine whether you are publishable or worthy of reading by going through the first few pages of your manuscript. For you to get the attention of the publisher, you have to take the right steps. Below is how:
Understand the category or genre of your work
When you are seeking representation, you need to have an understanding of what it is that you want exactly. The same should apply when writing your book.
In publishing, fiction and non-fiction writers take different paths. What category or genre does your work belong to?
If you are writing a novel or a memoir, don’t rush to get published before finishing and polishing your manuscript.
Take time to work on it. Get feedback from a credible source and edit it ferociously.
Ensure that the manuscript that you submit is the best it can be when you send your book proposal. As for non-fiction writers, you don’t need to complete your script.
Instead, you can write a proposal for the book. It acts as a business plan for the story.
Use it to convince a publisher into paying you so that you can write it. Don’t forget to research the marketability of your idea.
How you market a book is sometimes of more importance than the quality of your writing.
Do a lot of reading
Yes, you believe in your skills and approach. You can see yourself amassing a large fan base.
However, for you to compete in this highly competitive field, you need to be at par with the standards of published authors in your genre.
It calls for a lot of reading of the published works in your category. Use these books to make comparisons with your work.
Don’t just pick the best-sellers, read the mediocre ones too. They will help you identify the common mistakes to avoid.
Take note of the features of the books that you like, that make them enjoyable.
Try and incorporate them into your writing. As an author in a particular genre, familiarize yourself with the conventions that apply.
An editor will buy a book not just because they love it but also if they can sell it to readers. Does your material fit the bill?
Decide whether or not you need an agent
Your decision will depend on who you would like to publish your work and what you are selling. An agent is an expert in the industry.
Most publishers don’t accept manuscripts that are not represented by an agent.
An ideal literary agent will be able to match you with the right publisher or editor, one who is likely to buy your work. You need an agent who knows how to sell a book to a publisher.
He or she should know the publishing industry very well, and be able to negotiate the optimal deal and ensure that you get paid fairly and accurately.
Typically, agents get paid for book deals when they sell your work. It is usually a percentage commission on your royalties and advances.
Find out which agents and publishers accept your type of work. There are various platforms from where you can start your search, e.g., Writers Market, Agent Query, Duotrope, etc.
Prepare and submit the relevant documents
You need to get your manuscript solicited. Otherwise, it will end up in the slush pile. Well, you don’t want your long hours and many days of working on your book go to waste, do you?
You want to yourself and the publisher, time. Publishers and agents have unique requirements regarding the submission of materials.
Know what each requires and abide by the instructions as you would in the search for a review writer.
The conventional materials that you may need to submit include, a proposal, query letter, synopsis, and sample chapters. The query letter is like a one-page pitch to the agent or publisher.
You should aim to persuade them to request you for a proposal or a full manuscript.
When asked to send sample chapters of your memoir or novel, choose those from the beginning of the manuscript. For non-fiction work, any section is acceptable.
Prepare yourself for three different responses:
1. No response: there could be something wrong with your query letter
2. Request for partial manuscript or synopsis
3. Request for full document
No matter how many times you are rejected, you shouldn’t give up easily. Keep querying over and over again.
Getting published isn’t a walk in the park. It takes time.
Analyze the rejection slips that you receive. Check for patterns on what isn’t working. Use them to improve your writing.
Failures are opportunities for us to learn from and should not be the cause of despair.
Know that publishing is slow
Once you sell your book, don’t expect it to be at the bookstores, overnight. Publishers need to make room for rewriting, lining up publicity, marketing, sales, etc.
It may even take more than a year for the editor to publish your book.
It implies that when writing, you shouldn’t chase trends, neither should you do it for the money. You want people to desire to read your book even if the idea is overdone.
Do it because you have a passion for it and a unique story to tell.
Telling your story well, using a good story with great characters, will always sell.
Though it may seem hard to get paid to tell your story, it is possible.
But if writing is what you love and you are prepared to invest your time and energy in it, don’t let anything stop you.
Keep going, despite the many rejections you may receive. Learn and improve from analyzing them.
Don’t give up on doing all you can to realize your dreams.
Remember to apply the above tips; they will push you in the right direction.
Lisa Brown works as a content manager. She is specialized in writing useful articles for writers, students and people who want to improve their writing skills. Her hobby is reading, travelling and blogging. Lisa`s life motto is “Never stop learning because life never stops teaching”.