Saturday, June 26, 2010

You've Decided to Try for Publication. Now What?

Voyage to Infinity 1899--Emile-Friant-1863-1932 From time to time, I’m going to run a post on the basics of looking for a publisher or agent. I frequently get emails from folks who are looking for very general, basic information—and sometimes they’ve just discovered the online writing community.

The biggest moment in my writing career came with the realization that I wanted to be published by a traditional publisher. Oddly, the big moment wasn't when I was accepted by a traditional publisher or when I found an agent to represent me--but when I decided that was the course I wanted to take. Here are some tips to help with your journey to publication:

Read other books in your genre before you write. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t too far out of line with my efforts.

I’d also recommend turning to the community of blogging writers online. They’ll offer encouragement, support, industry information, and technical advice. There are many blogging writers that I link to in my sidebar that will give you a great starting point.

Get other people you trust to read your book. First readers who give truthful feedback in an encouraging way are incredibly helpful. If you don’t have any family members or friends that fit the bill, you can try online critique groups—you’ll read their work within a certain time frame and they’ll read yours. It may take some tweaking to find the right group. If you Google “online critique groups” you’ll get plenty of hits. I’d stick with a group that writes your genre.

Okay, so your manuscript is in pretty good shape. This means you’ve revised it many times. Others have read it and offered suggestions. You’ve read many books in your genre. Your manuscript doesn’t have grammatical or spelling errors.

Now it’s time to branch out. What kind of publisher fits your needs? A small press? Or something larger? If you’re interested in submitting to a smaller publisher (and there are many out there), then you can frequently submit without an agent.

You can learn publisher guidelines online at publishers’ individual websites. You can also go to your library and check their reference section for a recent edition of Literary Marketplace (which you can also get an online subscription to) or Writers Market.

Found a publisher that interests you? Go to your library or bookstore and read some of their recent releases. How does your book stack up? Do you need some more revising?

Do you need an agent in order to submit to your publisher? Try the listing of agents at and AgentQuery.

Is the agent or publisher reputable? Check sites like Writer Beware and Preditors and Editors to make sure your choices are scrupulous. There are many folks out there who prey on writers.

Write your query for your publisher or agent submission. Check sites like Query Shark, The Rejector, Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent, and Pub Rants for advice on writing a sound query.

Write a clear synopsis of your book. It shouldn’t have teasers, but should concisely tell your story in a compelling way.

Submit your query or your cover letter and first fifty pages. Make sure you’ve addressed your letter to the right editor or agent and have spelled their name correctly. Your manuscript should be formatted to a standard template. Be careful not to use unusual fonts or colored paper or anything unprofessional.

Expect rejections. Hope for the best, but plan for setbacks. If you’re fortunate enough to receive some feedback with your rejections, consider revising your manuscript via their suggestions.

The important thing is not to let your research and work immobilize you—let your research strengthen your resolve to make your book the best it can be…and then submit it.

Good luck!

My July 6th release is less than 2 weeks away. Click here for my book release contest. Entering is easy...and you might win a $25 bookstore gift card, a signed copy of "Delicious and Suspicious," and a "Delicious and Suspicious" tote bag. :)