Wow, getting published. What does that mean? I ask that because getting published means different things to different people. First of all if you love writing, and you do it for the shear pleasure of the art, then publishing can happen for you. You just have to have an open mind, tough skin, and love your art. If you write because you want to be the next big author, who rakes in millions of dollars for your first book, then I am about to hit you over the head with a cold block of reality. That is like hitting the lotto, so if you don’t write because you love it, you are in for lots of frustration.
The steps to becoming published are completely from my point of view, and realize that there are lots of other sources out there and different ways to become published, just make sure that you are open to all.
FINISH THE DARNED THING!
First you need to finish your book. If you are planning on writing Young Adult fiction, start writing in 12-point courier font, double spaced. Aim for around 69K-77K words. Writers are unique people, and everyone has their own time table. However, if you want to get published, and this is your first time pursuing getting published YOU NEED TO FINISH YOUR MANUSCRIPT.
EDIT IT YOURSELF FIRST – AT LEAST 4 TIMES
Before you send your baby out to the world, you need to beautify it. After you wrote it, start writing a new manuscript, take a break from it. I mean it – step away from your newborn masterpiece for at least two weeks. Then print it out (I like to get mine printed in 6x9 book format at a local printer – like Staples) and read it, mark it up in red, and correct it. Please, please, please repeat this at least 3 more times, before you send it off to your BETA READERS they will greatly appreciate it.
FIND GINEA PIGS – BETA READERS TO READ IT
Ok, find people you trust to read your work. If you can try to find any friends, family, or colleagues that are willing to review it for you. Then join a critique group, check out some writers website that offer reviews of your work (www.absolutewrite.com is my favorite) or a class that will allow you to present your work for review, as well as read works. Put on your armor and don’t be sensitive (I know it will be hard). Note all the feedback, and keep what is useful while discarding comments that may be just a matter of the reader's personal taste.
EDIT IT AGAIN WHILE UTILIZING FEEDBACK FROM BETAS
You must edit it again. Realizing that your manuscript is a work of art, it must be improved, tightened, and clean up to look as though it is a finish work. Make sure your plot sticks, your grammatical errors are cleared away, and your work reads like a published work of art.
LEARN THE PUBLISHING BUSINESS
You have got to research, research, read and research again the publishing business. You must decide WHAT YOU WANT to do with your work.
- Whether you want a Large Publishing House to manage your work?
- A small publishing house to manage your book?
- What type of Agent you want?
- What type of book you wrote? YA? Fiction? Chic Lit? Sci-Fi?
- Whether your book is specific to your work, or a knowledge area?
- Whether you want to publish the book yourself?
DECIDE ON WHAT YOU WANT FROM WRITING
Some people feel that getting with a huge publisher is the final stamp of approval. However, there are lots of people who just want to write and share their story, and they don’t care if they make millions of dollars from it. So, I say that to make you think deeply about what you want to do with your work. There is one author that published chapters of her book via her blog, and another who published free chapters of his book as a free podcast. They were happy with their choices, because they just loved to write and wanted to share their story.
However, I must say, before you give your work away, please try to pursue getting a Literary Agent, and then landing a traditional publishing company to manage your work. If that doesn't work in your personal time limit, get creative, plow your own path, and do what in the end will make you and only you happy. Remember: if you plow your own path, do your research, map out what success is to you, and at the very least you will learn from your experiences.
WRITE A QUERY LETTER TO SEND TO AGENTS
This is where only the strong survive. The query letter, or as I say ‘Sales Letter’ that you send to Literary Agents to sale them on the idea of representing you and your book is harder to write than your book. I suggest taking a query writing class, going to author websites and look at examples, or going to author websites and getting their feedback on your letter. The author websites offer free advice, guidance and support. Again, I say be strong, because at this stage - only the strong survive.
QUERY LETTER READY? SALE THAT BABY!
Be prepared for a lot of rejection. So suck it up! Got on your armor? Remember, it’s a sales game! Toughen up and never say die! After you have fine tuned and cleaned up your query letter, send it out to agents that represent your genre. Mail out at least five a week, and keep a list of agents that respond and agents that don’t. If you get to about twenty rejection letters, you may want to revise your query letter before sending it out again. Keep querying, until you get signed by an agent.
NO AGENT IS BITING? SALE DIRECTLY TO PUBLISHER.
Then look up publishers that don’t require that you have an agent in order to submit your manuscript. There are several books, websites and writers organizations that have this information available. My first offer for publishing came from a small publisher who didn’t require agent only submissions.
STILL NO BITES?
Keep writing, while you continue to submit your first work. Also, re-evaluate the different publishing options available to you. Attend Author Conferences in order to mingle with publishers, agents, and other authors. Join writer's association and personally meet writer's that may have trailed a different path as you have. Re-evaluate what you want from your writing. Pursue contest, writing for magazines, anthologies.
Always keep writing. Do this in order to improve, have more products to sell, and to grow as an author.