I’ve done a post like this before, but I thought I’d redo it for all my new followers. This is just a basic summary of the general route to getting published, because I know it’s every little writer’s dream to be published, yet a lot of young writers don’t really know what this entails. So…
(Self-publishing doesn’t really apply here so yeah)
1. Write Your Book
When I first started considering getting published, I Googled publishing info and came across some blog that told me I should get a literary agent before I waste my time writing a novel that might actually not be any good.
This is wrong on so many levels you don’t even know. First of all, it is IMPOSSIBLE to get an agent (at least for novel writing) if you do not have a COMPLETED manuscript, much less just an idea. Second, when in the world has writing ever been a waste of time? DO NOT INSULT THE LOVE OF MY LIFE LIKE THAT.
So, yeah. Finish your MS. Then edit. Then edit at least twenty more times. Then have other people look at it and cry when you have to edit another twenty times.
2. Look for Agents/Publishers
Going straight to publishers: I’m not as well-versed in just going straight to publishers because that’s not my plan, but several people do it, and do it successfully. Find a publisher database online (there are lots—Writer’sMarket is a good one), research ones that take your genre, know as much as you possibly can—about past publications, editors’ interests, the history of the publisher, everything—so you can tell the publisher why your book fits well with their previous books and not get rejected simply for not obeying some random guideline in the submission process. You’re going to have to write a query letter, maybe a cover letter, do a synopsis, all that stuff. But it depends on the publisher so KNOW WHAT YOU NEED TO HAVE.
Agents: I am personally a fan of going through a literary agent before going to a publisher because I feel like I just don’t know nearly enough about money and marketing and deals for everything to end well if I deal with all that myself. You are MUCH more likely to get publishers to give your novel some thought if you are represented. Many publishers don’t accept unsolicited queries.
Finding the right agent is similar to finding the right publisher. Stalk them and know every detail you possibly can about them. If they don’t represent YA and your novel is YA, don’t query them. Some great agent databases: LiteraryRambles and AgentQuery.
So what you have to do to GET an agent is, mainly, write a query letter. I’m going to do a whole ‘nother post about query letters after this, so hold on if you want more info. In short, its like the back cover of a book—it gives you the premise of the story and enough to entice you to read further. It is NOT, I repeat NOT, a summary. You want to make the agent read more, not know exactly what happens.
If they are interested, they may request a partial manuscript. If they are really interested, they’ll request a full. Then if they like your MS they will take you on, and, in many cases they will help you edit your novel in preparation for pitching it to the publisher. Then they do all the work getting the publisher to take on your novel for you.
3. Eventually, You get Published
After this, you’re pretty much on your own. They put your book on paper, and do little else. They may promote your novel on their website, but they expect you (and maybe your agent, depending on if you choose one who wants to work with you even after publication—many do) to do most of the marketing.
4. You Get Rich and Famous and Your Novel gets Turned into a Movie and Your Face is Stuck in a Permanent Sob Because of Publishing Feels
At least that’s what I plan on doing.
See guys, just four easy steps to wealth and fame. No big deal. Just ask JK Rowling. Actually, fun fact, Rowling was turned down by 12 publishers—the 13th finally published Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Don’t get discouraged—just think of those poor 12 publishers and be happy you aren’t them.