Thursday, November 8, 2012

Eight Steps to Getting Published

I've been working on a new non-fiction book. It's been fun, challenging and a lot of hard work. I think I posted this article I'd written some time ago more for me than you. But, you might find it helpful too.  :)

Publishing. It’s a difficult game. Some authors, some very good authors, never get published. Have you ever read a book that you wondered why it got published?  The answer is the author’s focused determination and the willingness to put himself/herself and their work on the line.

Getting published doesn’t happen overnight. There’s a lot of work required, including blood, sweat and tears. Authors have written whole books on the subject. I’m going to give you ten steps to getting published that will send you on your way to that day when you can say, “I’m a published author!”

1.      What kind of book should I write?

First pick a story that you are connected with emotionally. Determine the universal question your story asks. There are only so many plots out there. But by determining your question, you can make your story unique. Having that emotional connection will help your story come to life.

Know what type of book you are writing. Orson Scott Card provides the best analysis for determining what type of book you are writing in his book Characters and Viewpoints. He calls it the MICE Quotient - milieu, idea, character, and event. This book is a must read for new writers.

Study the different genres out there and pick the one that best suits your story idea and your style.

2.       Write an exceptionally well-written, unique manuscript.

There are many good books on the mechanics of writing, even those specific to the genre you have chosen. Writing organizations can also help you learn how to improve your writing skills. Take some classes or on-line workshops to really help you hone in on that tight, well-written masterpiece.

First time authors must have a completed manuscript before they begin the publication process. Publishers and agents won’t take queries on ideas for books unless you are a published and currently working with them. Another reason for a completed manuscript is, if you get a request it better be ready to send. They’re not going to wait.

3.      Search book stores and libraries for reputable publishers in your genre.

Write down the names of publishers who publish your type of book, and research their submission guidelines on the internet. If not on the internet, request guidelines through the mail. You can also research publishers on the internet, but you must be careful of companies touting themselves as reputable. Especially be careful of companies who misrepresent themselves and are really requiring you to self-publish. These companies offer to publish your book, but you are really paying for it.  You receive no editing help or any kind of promotion.

       4.      Decide whether to go with an agent or on your own.

Many publishers require manuscripts to be submitted through an agent. Others will accept work directly from the author. Agents can prove very beneficial. They can provide insights into the publishing world that would take years for an author to learn. They pitch your book for you to multiple publishers, help you fine-tune your work to the publisher’s specifications, and help promote you and your books. However, they do take a cut of your earning. You must decide whether an agent is right for you.

Some agents don’t help with promotion, so it is important to ask questions regarding what they have to offer. If an agent asks for money upfront, it’s usually a scam.  Also remember that an agent works for you, not the other way around. Choosing the right agent is as important as choosing the right publisher. Check out their reputation before accepting any kind of a deal. Check with other writers about who they use as an agent or publisher.

5.      Write a phenomenal query letter.

A well-written manuscript is important, but a query letter is what sells the book. Take some classes or on-line workshops to learn the keys to a perfect query letter.

6.      Once that query letter is written -- send, send, send.

Whether you choose an agent or a publisher, get those queries out. If it is possible with your day job, (Yes I said day job. You’re not an author yet.) you should mail or email at least ten queries a month until you have an agent and/or a publisher. Some publishers do not except multiple submissions so you should consider following this guideline. (Notice how carefully I worded that sentence.)

7.      Have a media kit ready.

Begin your media kit early and continue to add to it. A media kit is basically for promotion of yourself and your books. If you have some things already put together, it makes it easier when you are accepted for publication. Again, check out some good classes on the subject. Here are the basics that a good media kit should include:

·         Author biography, including your achievements and organizations you belong to
·         Author photo
·         Author interview questions and answers
·         A generic query letter
·         A book cover
·         A synopsis
·         Any reviews from readers or reviewers
·         An excerpt from your book

8.      Practice patience.

There might be a few authors who are offered a contract overnight, but your chances of that are about as much as the hunchback of Notre Dame finding a suit off the rack. If you love to write, you must put in the hard work to sell your talent. Not everyone is going to like your story, and that’s fine. But someone will and that means others will.

Have a professional go over any contracts you receive so that you understand all the terms. Most publishers will not negotiate the terms of their contract. It’s a take-it-or-leave-it deal.

As a romance author, I am told that erotic is where the money’s at. I choose not to write that, but somehow I have found my niche in the writing circle.  Remember to write what you enjoy.

Keep at it. Work hard. Be willing to put yourself on the line. Live your dream. Basically, the same stuff required of anything you love to do.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Comedy, Suspense...and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at:

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