Of all the questions I am asked, here is the most popular one: How do I get my book traditionally published? My not-so-quick answer: There’s many things I can suggest, but there’s not enough room or time to do them justice.
That written, here are a few first steps.
1. Please remember that many, many talented people want to be published—more than all the publishing houses combined in the world can ever hope to take on. It’s for this reason that I believe persistence is sometimes more important than talent, though talent and professionalism are certainly a necessary component. Rejection is often part of the game—you can’t get to “yes” without going through the “no’s”.
2. Research your market well. It’s better to send one pristine submission to a one appropriate publisher than a dozen bad ones happenstance: please don’t waste an editor’s time by sending less than your best work, or by sending a children’s book to an adult house, or a card deck to a paperback house. Most publishers have stopped reading unsolicited submissions because the time and energy necessary to slog through inappropriate submissions wasn’t cost effective.
3. Make certain your book manuscript or proposal is as good as it can be. I can’t stress this enough. It always astonishes me when I hear aspiring authors excuse a less-than-stellar manuscript with, “Hey that’s what editors are for.” Nope, not so. Anyway, why would you want to showcase your less-than-best work? It would be like showing up for a high profile cocktail party dressed in yoga pants and a grungy tee-shirt.
Not sure where your manuscript is at? Before you submit it to a literary agent or editor at a publishing house for consideration, ask yourself the following questions:
~ Is this manuscript as good as it could be?
~ Is there anything else I can do to make it better?
~ Have I had an outside reader look at this, and given me honest feedback? (By “outside reader”, I mean a critique partner, beta reader, workshop group, a publishing professional. In other words, someone who walks the walk and knows how to talk the talk. Not your mother, best friend, or partner who may be supportive but not critical.)
If your deep-in-your-heart honest answer to any of these questions is anything less than an emphatic yes, you know what to do.
(Hint: it’s not hit send.)
4. Finally, here are some books and sites I think are valuable:
~ Interested in children’s publishing? Check out Harold Underdown’s Purple Crayon website (Harold is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books).
~Looking for a literary agent? I like Jeff Herman’s Writer’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents. On the web, check out Agent Query.
4. For more information, check out the posts tagged Publishing 101 (for newbies) on my blog. Topics covered include:
~ Do you need a literary agent? If so, how do you find one?
~ Is it better to work with a small or large publisher?
~ Helpful resources for beginning novelists.
~ And more.
I wish you the very best of luck in your publishing journey!