Was it the drive to make a living from your passions that led you to write a book?
Do you have your manuscript in a drawer or stored on your computer?
But now you are thinking, what will it take to get my book published?
There are a lot of publishing routes you can take with many different publishing companies.
The dream of being published
The dream of most writers is to land a traditional publisher. But publishing deals are hard to get.
You will need to find a literary agent to represent you.
With this route, the publisher pays you an advance and royalties on book sales. They assume all of the publishing and marketing costs.
You get paid by the publisher for the publishing rights of your book.
Some new small publishers have different models of publishing and how they go about paying authors.
Unlike traditional publishing, you don’t generally need an agent.
You could also choose to self-publish or hire a service that charges you to publish your book.
No matter which route you take, one fact you need to keep in mind is that the publishing journey can be a long haul.
Finding a traditional publisher
How do you find a publisher for your first book if you want to take the traditional route?
To get published, you don’t need to have connections in the industry, but it really helps.
If you have referrals or contacts, it can be a big bonus for you.
Most big publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts from first-time authors, and especially for fiction books.
For those who do, they usually assign manuscripts to first-readers. This is quite 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.
If you want to get the attention of the publisher, you have to know how to take the right steps.
Understand the genre of your work
When you are looking for representation, you need to have a clear understanding of where to pitch your book.
The same should apply when you are writing your book.
In publishing, fiction and non-fiction writers might take different paths.
But knowing your genre is vital. What precise category or genre is your book?
Most publishers have a preference for specific genres. You need to match your genre with a publisher’s preference.
Perfect your manuscript
Never rush to get published before you have perfected and polished your manuscript.
Once you’ve written your manuscript, take your time to work on it.
Make sure you get feedback from credible sources such as an editor or beta readers and then edit it carefully.
You need to make absolutely sure that the manuscript you are going to submit is the best it can be when you send your book proposal.
For non-fiction writers, you don’t always need to have a complete manuscript ready.
Instead, you can write a proposal for the book. It acts as a business plan for the story.
You use it to convince a publisher to pay you so that you can write the book.
Never 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
You believe in your writing skills, ideas, and visions. You might dream of amassing a large reader base.
But to compete in this highly competitive field, you need to be on par with the standards of published authors in your genre.
You should do a lot of reading of popular titles in your category.
Use these books to make comparisons with your work.
But don’t only pick the bestsellers.
Read some of the mediocre ones too because they will help you identify many of the common mistakes to avoid.
Take note of the features of the books that you like that make them enjoyable.
Then you can try to incorporate those ideas into your writing.
As an author in a particular genre, familiarize yourself with the common attributes of a great book that works well for your type of book.
A publisher will only consider a book if they believe they can sell it to readers.
Do you need an agent?
Your decision will depend totally on who you would like to publish your book.
If you decide on traditional publishing, you will need an agent who is an expert in the industry.
A majority of publishers don’t accept manuscripts from authors who are not represented by an agent.
A good literary agent will be able to match you with the right publisher who might be interested in your work.
You will need an agent who knows how to promote your book to a publisher.
Your agent should know the publishing industry very well, and be able to negotiate the optimal deal and ensure that you get paid appropriately.
Typically, agents get paid for book deals when they sell your work. Most often, it is a percentage commission on your royalties and advances.
Do your research and find out which agents and publishers accept your type of work.
There are various platforms from where you can start your search.
If you plan to use a small press to publish your book, you can generally submit directly without an agent.
Prepare your documents
You need to get your manuscript noticed.
Or in other words, you need to learn how to sell a book to a publisher.
Otherwise, it will end up in the slush pile. You certainly don’t want your long hours and months of working on your book to go to waste.
Publishers and agents usually have specific requirements regarding book submissions.
You need to know what each one requires and abide by the instructions.
Generally, the documents you may need to submit, include a book proposal, a query letter, synopsis, and sample chapters.
A query letter is usually a one-page pitch to the prospective agent or publisher.
Your initial aim is to persuade them to ask you for a further proposal or your full manuscript.
You might be 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 usually acceptable.
Ready yourself for three different responses
1. No response. This is quite common, but don’t be dissuaded.
2. A request for a partial manuscript or synopsis.
3. A request for the full manuscript.
No matter how many times you receive no response or a rejection letter, you shouldn’t give up. Keep querying over and over again.
Getting your first book published isn’t an easy option. It takes time and a lot of patience.
Analyze the rejection letters you receive. Check for any patterns about what isn’t working.
Perhaps you can use the ideas to improve your manuscript.
Failures and disappointments are often opportunities to learn, so don’t overlook their value.
Publishing is not fast
If you are lucky enough to find a publisher for your book, don’t expect it to be at the bookstores overnight.
The publishing process is slow.
Publishers need a lot of time for editing and rewriting, book cover design, and production. There is also publicity, marketing, and promotions to arrange.
It can take more than a year before your book is finally published.
Because of this, don’t bother chasing trends and writing a book that will not be current in a year from now.
Make sure that the story you write will stand the test of time.
If you tell your story well, with great characters, it will stand a chance.
It might be incredibly hard to sell your story, but it is possible.
However, if writing is what you love and you are prepared to invest your time and energy into it, don’t let anything stand in your way.
Keep going, despite the many rejections you may receive. Learn and improve by analyzing them.
Never give up on doing the best you can to realize your dreams.