An aspiring author recently asked how they could get a real
publisher. Good question. Let's explore the process:
1. Write a book, but
not just any book - a great book. Take the time to research similar titles, as
well as your target audience. Are you writing for the Young Adult (YA) crowd?
Romances appeal to most women and are the most popular genre. How about Sci-Fi,
mystery, fantasy, and futuristic? Let's not forget contemporary works,
historical novels, and women's fiction.
2. Okay, you now have
a first draft. Read everything you can get your hands on to improve your
skills, go to workshops and writers' conferences, visit writing blogs and soak
up as much as you can. Go home and apply those lessons to your writing.
2. Now that you have
re-written your first draft, find a critique partner to read it and suggest
changes. Don't cry when it comes back with lots of red ink.
conferences often have authors present who will do paid critiques. Invest in
one. (If this seems like a long process, it is. You don't produce a publishable
4. If you can afford
it, hiring a professional editor can provide a great learning experience, as
well as polishing your work. Make sure you select someone who will be
compatible and knows what they're doing. (Many offer to do sample chapters for
a fee.) I found my editor on LinkedIn, Deirdre Lockhart, of Brilliant Cut
5. The next step is
to obtain an agent. The best place to meet one is at a writers' conference.
Attending agent/editor panels at a conference can provide insight into what
they're seeking in the way of genre. Most conferences also provide one-on-one
appointments with agents and editors.
6. If an agent or
editor asks you to send them either a partial or full proposal, make sure
that's your top priority when you arrive home. Visit their websites for guidelines and follow them to the letter. Allow yourself five or ten minutes to
do a Snoopy Happy Dance and then get to work.
7. If the
agent/editor sends a rejection letter, put it in a file and continue writing.
Tip: These folks like to see you've
written more than one book. After all, would you want to spend hours of your
time to work with someone whose creativity dries up after a single story?
8. If an agent/editor
gives suggestions on how to improve your writing, take them seriously. The
first time I met with an agent, he told me to go home and learn how to write
9. If you land a
contract with an agent, it's a big step. Getting a publishing contract is
another set of hurdles, but it's not impossible.
It takes time, patience, and perseverance to get a
traditional publishing contract. Many people opt to go the Indie route (self
publishing), but do your research before diving into that pond.
Although the journey is long, enjoy it. Once writing gets in
your blood, it's hard to walk away.
questions do you have about the publishing process for fiction writers? (We'll
talk about non-fiction next week.)
Readers: Are you
surprised at how much is involved in the publishing process? Please share your
Photo Credit: Mario Alberto Magallane Trejo