A few weeks ago, I had someone ask me about how I got my book published. It made me think about how much I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) to reach the point where I am now. I took my response and expanded on it.
Writing usually begins with a magical search: “how to write a novel”, “how to write a book”, “sample template of a manuscript” (you can find one here by the way), “how to find my writing voice”…
I wish I could have a nice little chat with Shawntelle from December 2008. Boy, would she be shocked at how much work and pain comes with writing. I’d tell her that writing 80K plus books is tiring and hard work. I’d tell her that it’s possible to write so long that your fingertips hurt and your brain will explode from those long editing sessions. But I’d also tell her that the first sell is so worth it in the end.
So, if I knew what I knew then, what would I say… First of all, anyone can open up Microsoft Word and start writing. But it’s what you do once you open Word/MS Notepad/Scrivener/OpenOffice that counts. I suggest the following: starting reading the books in the genre you want to be published within. If you like unusual historicals, then you should be reading them to know your genre.
Next, I would start browsing websites with writer forums like absolutewrite.com, querytracker.net, etc. If you’re interesting in writing, you need to associate with people who are serious about publication. Writing is a solitary activity and it helps to be around people who will encourage you. Especially when you’re tired of writing or when you’re rejected by agents/publishers. (And that is a part of the business that you’re going to have to get used to. So you might as well start toughening your skin now.)
So, if you want to be published by a New York publishers (called traditional publishing by those on the inside), here are the oh-so-fun steps (said with sarcasm):
1. Finish the book.
2. Edit the book.
3. Edit the book. Again. (Yep, I repeated that. If you feel uncomfortable about editing, check out how other authors edit. Some have lists online of what books they use and classes they found valuable Definitely Angela James’ class was good. There are even free resources out there. Some you pay for but they are worth it.)
4. Have a beta reader/critique partner offer feedback.
5. Write a synopsis for the book. Be prepared to write a 2-page, 3-page, or even up to 7-page version. I’m not kidding. Different agents want different things.
8. If they offer rep, then hopefully you’ll go out on submission to be sold to publishers.
Out of all the blog posts I’ve seen about the process, this one from BookEnds Literary Agency is the best.
Any tips you can add, or maybe you have questions? Leave a tip/question and I’ll enter you to win an e-book copy of Sandy Williams’ book: THE SHADOW READER coming out October 25th! I’ll pick a winner next Wednesday.