A Simple Guide to Becoming a Published Author
At one point in your life, you’ve probably had a surplus of ideas, and you dreamed of getting them published. It could be a fictional novel, a guide book, or a manuscript that you want to be published. Undoubtedly, it is every writer’s dream.
But how can someone actually get their work published?
Jump right in, and learn from the experts! Start your very own dream book with these five simple steps that will allow you to have your work published, and set your sights on becoming the writer that you have always dreamed of being.
Brief Notes for Writers (Bonus)
Focus *first on your writing.
Write and write and write some more so that you can improve your skills in writing over time. Do NOT put most of your thoughts into the process of how to get your book published. Instead, set your mind on finishing your book, and finishing it well.
There are also many ways to effectively edit your work. After finishing your first draft, have a nice long break; travel to another place, or just simply do something else and clear your mind. Now that you have cleared your mind, you will have a fresher outlook on editing your work.
With this fresh perspective, you will be able to add both subtlety and complexity to your work. A good suggestion would be to get away from it all. Perhaps try taking that dream vacation to California, or perhaps rent some nice and exclusive house and land Perth with RedInk Homes, or simply seclude yourself from the busy city life. Whatever it takes for you to commit your undivided attention towards your book. Editing and revising work is of high importance in getting your first masterpiece published.
Also, keep in mind that your first work is just as critical as your second or third work. With this being kept in mind, you should focus on putting the same amount of effort and focus into each piece to ensure that none of your books are “half baked”. Make sure that before you try to have your work published, you are confident that all of your work meets your high standards across the board.
If you are looking to publish as quickly as possible, you can always try online outlets such as blog sites, websites or online reading communities (such as Wattpad). It is a very interesting option for creative writing, and it can also facilitate peer reviewing in case you want to factor in constructive criticism before actually publishing your work.
Lastly, be on the lookout for editors, agents or publishers. You can befriend a few, or you can perform extensive research on which editor, agent or publisher would best fit your choice. Knowing people or franchises is of utmost importance to guaranteeing your success – or at the very least a fair deal.
Step 1: Determine Your Work’s Genre or Category
Now, you have to identify what your genre or category is. Are you a fiction or nonfiction writer? The thing is, there are significantly different paths taken by novelists of fiction compared to non fiction authors.
- For novels, memoirs, and other fiction books: After finishing your manuscript and making sure that it is done precisely the way you want it published, it is now time to approach editors or agents. Again, it’s important to be 100 percent confident with your work. You may be very excited about your story idea, or about having a partial manuscript, but it’s almost never a good idea to pitch your work to a publishing professional at such an early stage. Finish the work first. It is also advisable to look for critiques, mentors, or peer advisories who can offer you constructive feedback, so that you can improve your work. One of the biggest mistakes new writers make is rushing to get the work published.
- For most nonfiction: Rather than completing a manuscript, you should write a book proposal —which acts like a business plan for your book—that will convince a publisher to contract and pay you to write the book. You need to methodically research the market for your idea before you begin to write the proposal. Find other titles that are competitive or comparable to your own; make sure that your book is unique, but also doesn’t break all the rules of the category it’s meant to succeed in.
Step 2: Evaluate Your Book’s Commercial Potential
The commercial viability of books varies wildly. Some books could be big enough to be suitable for the Big Five traditional publishers – like that of Penguin Random House and HarperCollins. As for the relatively smaller scale, they are suitable only for mid-size and small scale publishing work. However, the most important thing to remember is that not every book or book idea is meant to be published by a major publisher, or represented by an agent. The problem is that most writers – especially beginner authors – have a difficult time being honest with themselves about their work’s potential.
Here are some of the primary styles of books that Jane Freidman, the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Open Road Integrated Media, which is a company that specializes in traditional and eBook publishing, said are most suitable for a Big Five traditional publisher.
The genre of commercial fiction would include such categories as: romance, erotica, mystery, crime, thriller, science fiction, fantasy, and young adult. In addition to this list, there are nonfiction books that would get shelved in your average Barnes & Noble or indie bookstore—which requires a strong hook or concept and author platform. Usually a New York publisher won’t sign a nonfiction book unless they anticipate selling 10,000–20,000 copies at a minimum.
Step 3: Looking For The Right Publisher
Once you know what you’re selling, it’s time to research which publishers or agents accept the type of work you’ve written. Sadly, most publishers – especially major publishers – do not accept submissions which aren’t supervised by legitimate agents.
The good thing is, there are many online guides – even online agencies – that can help a lot with you finding the right agent for your book. Writersmarket.com provides thousands of book publishers available for the taking. PublishersMarketplace.com, on the other hand, is the best place to research literary agents because, not only does it have many member pages, you can also search their database by genre, category, and/or keyword to pinpoint the best agents for your work.
Step 4: Complying With Submission Requirements
While each publisher or agent will require different submission requirements, here are the three most common required materials and how they are best prepared:
- Query letter. This is a 1-page pitch letter that gives a brief description of your work.
- Novel synopsis. This is a brief summary (usually no more than 1-2 pages) of your story, from beginning to end. It must reveal the ending. This is very important as it could very well be the selling point for any agent.
- Sample chapters. When choosing sample chapters that can best showcase your book in submission, start from the beginning of the manuscript. It usually has more impact and more of a draw for the reader, and it is a sure-fire way to paint a good picture of your book for the agents to consider.
Step 5: Submit Your Materials And Wait
Almost no agent, publishing house, or editor accepts full manuscripts on first contact, and this is why they keep the sign “No unsolicited materials” in submission guidelines. What they ask for is a Query Letter, which is why you should focus on making your query letter a convincing one.
After you submit your query letter, you’ll get three general kinds of responses:
a.) No response
b.) A request for sample chapters and/or synopsis
c.) A request for the whole manuscript and additional documents
In the grand scheme of things, a non-response usually means a rejection.
However, don’t let a rejection get you down! Remember, almost every famous and successful author has experienced hundreds, if not thousands, of rejections. Do not just abandon your work if you think that it should be published. Talk to the agent or publishing house and find out where your novel went wrong and how it can be improved.
Publishing your work also entails a lot more than just submission. You also have to factor in protecting rights to your work, the publishing industry in general, and a lot more that comes with being an author. Right now, however, all you have to do is to think about these five steps thoroughly in order to focus on having your work published.