A couple of weeks ago, I invited writers to ask a few questions. Here is one: “Thanks for this chance. My biggest question is related to publishing. I know it is fraught with difficulty. I was thinking that perhaps a flow chart could be devised for a typical path to getting published? (Of course, that assumes that a typical path exists.)”
Okay, here is how you get a book published, and get it done right:
– Write the book.This might require a lot of work on your part—brainstorming a novel, drawing up the first draft, and revising it. Depending upon your natural skills and training you might need to study dozens of books on the topic, take workshops, and so on.
As you revise the book, you typically will give it out to “beta” readers, who will point out problems that you might want to fix.
You don’t go down the path toward publishing until you have your manuscript in excellent shape. Your goal is to make as much money as you can from that novel, and so you will want to make a good first impression with editors and agents. So you never send your novel out “half-baked.”
– If you are self-publishing, then you will simply format the book and upload it on places like Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, etc. Self-publishing is all that you need for romance novels and self-help books, but I don’t recommend it for people who are writing young adult, middle-grade, or thriller novels. With other genres, such as science fiction or horror, there is a lot of debate on whether you should self-publish or go with a big publisher. Self-publishing is a big topic just in itself, so there are a lot of online communities where authors talk about how to do it well. You can find groups on Facebook dedicated to the industry, where you can learn the ins and outs.
Before you go to a publisher, research your markets. That means that you go to the bookstore and look at the novels you are competing with. Study such things as the age and sex of the protagonist, the types of emotions that the book arouses, learn which books are bestsellers and why, and pay close attention to who the publishers and editors are for the books.
– Pick your desired publisher. Now, most authors ignore this step, thinking that the publisher will pick them, but do so at their own peril. You see, if you go to a small publisher who doesn’t have the funds to market your book correctly, you’ll probably find that the publisher really can’t do anything for you at all, and you’re giving your hard-earned book to someone you shouldn’t. So, go to www.publishersmarketplace.com and buy a subscription for one month. Once you’ve done that, go to the “Top Dealmakers” section and search for the best publishers in the business. There won’t be more than about eight. After that, the secondary publishers come into play. What you are looking for are publishers who know your genre, market books well, and who are cash-rich because they have a lot of books doing well. Those are the ones who can afford to treat you right and who have proven their worth in the marketplace.
– Once you know which publishers you want, do a new search on top editors. You’ll find out who the editors are who buy most frequently at the publishing house you want to use. When you know the editors’ names, you can do a search on the publisher’s website and on google to learn more about those editors and their tastes so that you can see if you might be a good fit with one of them.
– Next, while you’re doing your search for these top editors, you can see what books they have bought in recent years. Check to see who the agent is that they acquired the book from. This will give you a short list of the agents that you might want to have represent you. Please beware: There are a lot of people who call themselves agents who won’t be a good fit for you. Some of them are fake agents who try to scam authors, some are lame-duck agents who can’t make a big deal for you, and others are wannabes. You don’t want any of those. You only want real, working agents who can get your book where you want it!
– Now, if you are in a genre where you need an agent (thrillers/young adult/middle-grade), you will need to begin sending query packages out to your short list of agents. There are a lot of articles that you can find online for how to query an agent. Query letters work fine, but sometimes you can find agents at conventions, or you can contact them through a pitchfest. (Google “pitchfest” to learn more about them.)
– If you don’t need an agent, you can contact an editor directly. This is what you might want to do if you’re writing science fiction, fantasy, horror, or mystery. Simply look at the contact information on the website, make sure that it is okay to submit to the editor directly, and send your query package to the editors. You can often meet these editors at various conventions, such as the World Fantasy Convention, World Horror Convention, or the World Science Fiction Convention, and so on.
– If you do have an editor who wants to pick up your book, let the editor know that you would like to work with an agent and ask if he/she recommends someone. You can then contact the agent and ask them to negotiate the offer.
– Once you have a book offer negotiated, you can then prepare for the eventual release of your novel. There are dozens of things that you can do to prepare for it—such as setting up a web page, organizing publicity, and so on. But at this point, you simply repeat the process.
There are a lot of tiny things that go into this larger overall process of publishing, details that you should know, so do your research on publishing before you get too much further!
Writing Enchanting Prose Workshop
Due to popular demand, David has opened another session of Writing Enchanting Prose in Dallas. The previous workshop sold out very quickly. Catch this one now!
Springhill Suites, Addison
15255 Quorum Dr, Addison, TX 75001-4639
March 5-9, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
10 Attendees Total
Provo Courtyard Marriott
March 19-23, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
10 Attendees Total
In this workshop we will work heavily on imbuing your prose with the richness and details that bring a story to life. The goal is to teach you how to fully transport readers as you take them on a journey that captivates their hearts and minds. David Farland will teach you how to totally transport you readers so that they become so immersed in your story, they forget where they are—they forget they are reading at all.
This workshop is similar to the Writing Mastery workshop, but will be more exercise-oriented, with in-class practices. Writing Enchanting Prose is more in-depth than any of David’s past prose workshops.
In this workshop, Dave would like to create an intimate environment where individual students will receive ample time for one-on-one interaction and critiques. Dave will be spending personal time with each student. Because of that, we will be strictly limiting the number of students allowed to attend to 10.
Learn more or register here.
The Eyes Have No Soul
My friend Matthew W. Harrill has a new book out. The Eyes Have No Soul came about as he was doing writing exercises for one of my Writing Mastery classes.
Forensic Analyst Clare Rosser has focused her career on becoming a detective, and solving the mystery of her parents’ murder.
When a series of grisly murders leaves bodies twisted and bereft of fluid in a mummy-like state, one fact becomes apparent: the monster that killed her parents ten years ago has returned.
Fighting the bureaucracy of her own police department, as well as her own prejudices and ailing body, Clare must take matters into her own hands before more suffer the same fate.
The clues are out there. The answers lie within her. But can she find them before it’s too late?
You can purchase the book here.