So you've written a masterpiece, a clever article, a great guide, or an enchanting tale, and you want the world to be able to read it at their leisure! Great job! There are now only a few more steps that you need to go through to get published.
While there are multiple ways to get your stories, poems, fiction and nonfiction works, and any other writen art and assets published, we're going to show a traditional route to get your foot in the door to become a Best Selling Author! The best thing of all - it doesn't matter if you've never been published before, as all authors (except for those who have been established for numerous years and are well known) go through this same process. Even the famous authors took these same steps before they became famous.
Step One: Your Work
You've completed your writing, but your job is not yet done! (Note: Many publishing companies accept book ideas, provided you have a couple sample chapters to show what they may be publishing down the road if they decide to give you a deal.) Also, we are going to refer to your written work as a book for simplicity; your work could be an article, collection of short stories, or anything else! Here are a few recommended steps to have done before you attempt to sell your work to a publisher:
- When you have completed writing your book, put it away and stop working on it. Wait at least one month, but preferrably longer (some people suggest waiting up to one year - and then open up your book and read it. Try reading it as if you did not write it - and determine if the flow makes sense, if the characters are convincing, and if you want to keep reading it all the way until the end. And be honest with yourself - every author and artist has created works that they end up not liking!
- Get an editor. If you can, hire a professional editor that has worked with publishing companies. If you're unable to hire one, try getting friends and family to read your book to gauge their opinions. It's best to have someone with very strong Literature skills (grammar, structure, subtle comprehension, etc) read your work at least one - often times, you will be able to find someone at the local Univerisity to do it for you - for free! (Note: You may have people whom you are not familar with sign a contract that they may not reproduce the main elements or characters in your story for any purpose.)
- When you are 100% satisfied with your work, print at minimum three copies, single sided! One for your, one for your editor, and one for the publisher to review. Depending on how many publishers you send your work to, you'll need to make additional copies.
Step Two: Advertising Your Work
When we say advertising - we mean "selling it" to the publisher, not the general public. And in order to advertise it to the publisher, you'll need to make sure you follow all their rules for submitting your works - these rules vary by publisher, so be sure to read any and all details before submitting to any publisher! Another thing you'll need to do at this stage: Write a book proposal. While there are various places online that suggest how to correctly write a proposal, they can and do vary - there is a very good book written on the topic. You can view it at Amazon.com by following this link: How to Write a Book Proposal.
Step Three: Select Which Publishers To Present To
Publishers want to find new authors - this can seem like a lie if you talk to other authors who have received rejection letters, or have received them yourself. However, every publisher is looking for the next huge hit (Harry Potter anyone?) or even a nice franchise of book genre's from a single author, ala Stephen King. You need to do two things to position yourself for success - be different at something you do: nobody wants to read a book called Henry Potter with a similar plot and characters to the real thing. The other thing is to be flexible. If a publisher loves your book but hates a certain character in it - unless that character means more to you than the book without the character, you may want to change the character or eliminate it entirely, if you are able to do so and still have your book solid.
Another important topic about publishers that too many authors don't realize - there are thousands of publishers, and many of them publish only certain types of book in specific genres. You don't want to waste your time and money sending your children's book to a publisher that only publishes political books written by authors living in the Third World. Be sure to research your publishers to make sure they would publish the type of book you wrote, and for any special submission guidelines.
Step Four: Send the Book Proposals and...wait.
After you've written the perfect book, edited it and made sure it was indeed perfect, wrote an awesome book proposal, selected a handful of publishers, and mailed everything out...you get to wait.
While waiting, you could start another book, take a vacation, or just continue on your daily life. Try not to get too involved in the "action" of waiting. At the very least, take yourself out for lunch and a movie for a job well done - and full completed with everything you have under your power.
Step Five: The Replies
When you get replies back, there will likely only be one of a several responses:
- We loved your book, you're an excellent author, but we have no plans of publishing your book now, or ever. (Rejection.)
- We loved your book, you're an excellent author, but there's a few things we hated... (Rejection with hope.)
- We liked your book, and we think there is room for improvement. (Rejection with hope.)
- We liked your book, but it just wasn't as good as others. (Rejection with hope.)
- We hated your book and think you should go back to shining shoes for a living. (Rejection.)
- We hated your book, and here's why.... (Rejection with hope.)
- We liked your book, and would like to discuss it further... (Possible Acceptance.)
- We loved your book, except for these few things... (Possible Acceptance.)
- We loved your book; why didn't you send it to us sooner? (Acceptance.)
If you receive a rejection of any kind, don't get upset or think your book is not worthy of being published! You can always send it to other publishers who may take more time with it and offer more suggestions! If you're lucky, the rejection may state a few things that the publisher had problems with - and you may address those issues (if you do not think it would hurt the intregity of the story - it is your story, afterall) and proceed with resubmission. Everyone gets rejected. Everyone. The true winners are the ones that take it in stride and use it to better themselves. Think to yourself: Thank you for rejecting my book - by doing so, you have brought me statistically closer to having another publisher accept it! This may or may not make you feel better, but many times it is true.
If you receive an acceptance of any kind - congratulations! But there is still much work to be done, of which an editor from the publisher will usually contact you about. You may be rewriting parts of the book, travelling (coach) to book signings to advertise, or other tasks deemed appropriate by yourself and the publisher.
And that, in a nutshell, is how to get published.
Feel free to go write your masterpiece, or if you're having writers' black, check out another Writing Topic in the Writing Lesson Center!