Monday, August 18, 2014

Becoming Traditionally Published

  Every writer wants to have his or her book published by a traditional publisher, but it is harder than you would think. You may or may not need an agent, depending on the publisher. As previously mentioned, Simon and Schuster requires your manuscript to be submitted by an agent. Most publishing companies will open their submissions a couple times of year to people who want to submit their manuscripts without an agent. There are steps you can follow to get your book published.

                First, you must read. You have to read a lot. Not only do you have to read the books that are your inspiration for writing, but you want to read everything you can. If you want to write fiction, read nonfiction. If you are writing nonfiction, read fiction. Read classical works, read books from other cultures and times, read poetry. Read books that come from a foreign language. Read books you have already read. This will help you to understand how books are written.

                Secondly, you have to ask yourself a few questions. Why are you writing? What type of book are you attempting to write? Do you want it to be a popular book? Will you be proud of the book you write? Are doing this as a competition with a friend? Do you crave the attention you could receive from writing a book? Are you looking to change the world with your book? Would you be satisfied with a small audience? Are you in it for the fame, money, or respect? Is there something that you really believe in? What are the types of books you enjoy reading? Are you attempting to create a book that is a complete disconnect from what you read? For instance, if you love horror novels and are attempting to write a romance novel, is this the right way to go?   You have to be honest with yourself as to why you are writing. If you choose not to be, then your work will come off as false. Any good reader, including editors, will spot this.

                Thirdly, you will need to delve further into the publishing industry than the advice being given here. Attempt to become an intern for a publishing company or do some volunteer reading. Try to meet and chat with someone who is in the industry. Attempt to work in the publishing industry. Work in a bookstore. Learn as much as you can about the industry. Your chances of succeeding in it will be better.

                Fourthly, make sure to do your research. Knowing the market for the book you are going to write is very important. This is an important step if you are writing a nonfiction book. You will have to know how the topic is covered for the book you are writing.  You will have to see how well the topic is covered and if there is new information about the topic that causes the other books to be outdated. Visiting the library and bookstores will give you a chance to see how books are formatted and how they are priced. You will also be able to see if every area of the topic has been covered or if just the board spectrum of the topic has been covered. This research can give you a chance to cover a certain aspect of the topic that could bring in an audience. When you are writing a fiction book, market research is a bit more difficult. You can see what publishers are publishing the fiction book you are planning on writing.

                Fifthly, take the time to actually write the book. There are writers that will just write a chapter and attempt to land a publishing deal. That only works if you are an already established writer or you are one of the leading authorities on your subject matter. This is one of the best things you can do. Writing the book will help you learn more about your subject of choice. You will be able to understand your topic more. Your book may take a direction you did not plan on, which is great. You have to be open to allowing this to happen. You will just want to write the book until you get to the end to see where it goes. Do not try and go over it and polish it up. At this stage, never worry if it is good enough, it will not be. Do not worry about formatting it or the length of it. Writing a book is all about making it work, not the number of words you can write. Toward the middle of the book, you may feel like you have painted yourself into a corner, you may think the book will not be good enough, or that you may never finish it. You will need to push through the book. When you are almost to the end, the excitement of being done will kick in. When you are writing a fiction novel, the best thing you can do is to start with a few scenes and fill in the gaps between them. Not finishing the book is the most common reason for failing.

                Sixthly, always take the time to rewrite. Your first draft is just that, a draft. Once you have written the book, you will have to put it aside for a while and then look at it with critical eyes. Change the point of view of the book, move chapters around, eliminate characters. Never get the sense of satisfaction too early. Always get a friend or two to look at it before you send it in. If you have a feeling that something may be wrong with your manuscript, it most likely is. Take the time to revise it. Your first few pages should capture an editor’s attention as well as a reader’s attention. Take the time to be sure that is the case.

                Seventhly, after you are completely satisfied with your manuscript it is time for you to do additional market research. If you took the time to go to the bookstores and libraries, then you have already identified publishers who may be interested in the book you have written. It is time to double check your findings. See if the author’s of books with a similar subject matter thank publishers and agents in his or her acknowledgements. The reference desk in your library should have the Literary Marketplace. This will give you the names, addresses, and phone numbers you want.

                Eighthly, write a query letter. A short query letter is the best kind to write. The goal of the letter is to find out if the publisher is looking for a book like the one you have written. You will also want to know if they are going to take the time to actually read your manuscript. Will you need an agent? Not necessarily, if you go with a smaller publishing company. If you are looking to get into a bigger named company, then you are going to need an agent. Agents are also good at looking over contracts and being sure everything is in order. If you are going to opt for finding an agent, do not go with one who charges a reading fee. Before you commit to sending your manuscript, always right a query letter. A publisher will turn you away, if your book is too similar to one of the titles they already have, if they have too many manuscripts to look at, or if they have shifted the focus of what they are seeking. Always keep your letter to one page. In the letter, explain who you are, what your book is about, and the potential market for the book.

                Ninthly, if you have received a positive response from a publisher, then submit your manuscript with a brief cover letter. Included in the letter should be why you think the publisher is right for your manuscript. The publishing company may request a synopsis and a sample of your characters. Keep this as brief as you possibly can. Always make sure your manuscript is double spaced and the pages are numbered. Never send a self addressed stamped envelope, always ask them just to recycle the pages. Never send your photo, but always include your address.
Tenthly, always wait two to three months before you politely request a progress report on your manuscript. Never mistake a slow response as interest in your manuscript. The main thing to remember is to not give up. Most people will drop out after a few months, never ever drop it. Keep writing and you will get ahead.  Remember to improve your writing skills, write, write, and write some more.

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