After spending months reviewing plotlines, perfecting characters and adding those oh-so-essential finishing touches, it’s finally time to share your writing with the world. But just how do you get your novel published?
Ensure your work is finished
Unless you’re an award-winning author, it’s difficult to get your work published off the back of simple plot submission. Sending publishers a completed manuscript is more beneficial, as it gives them a clear idea of both the book you’re proposing and your writing skills.
Initially, some publishers will ask to see the first three chapters of your book. If you impress these chapters, they might ask to see your full manuscript. Failing to have this already prepared means you could miss out on the opportunity. Publishing is an incredibly competitive and fast-paced industry, so it’s naive to think that the professionals will wait for you to finish writing.
Select your route
There are two main options available to authors: you can sign up with an agent or contact publishers directly. Each route has its own specific benefits, as we’ll explore.
Signing up to an agency can be a smart move, especially if you’re a new writer. Experienced agents can offer a wealth of knowledge about how the industry operates, which could make the difference when it comes to securing a deal.
It’s important that you select the right agent. You should thoroughly research your options and only contact those that specialise in your genre. This will ensure they have a sound knowledge of the marketplace you are trying to target.
While undoubtedly useful, agents work on a commission basis and could considerably impact your earnings once you sign a deal. Never pay for an agent upfront.
Contacting publishers directly
An alternative option is to contact publishers directly. As a writer, this gives you the creative freedom to take control of how you want your book to perceived.
However, as a new writer, you may find it difficult to get publishers to take your work seriously. In fact, many publishing agencies will not accept work that has not been submitted through an agent. Having an agent allows you to use their good reputation as a bartering tactic, helping you to get your work read.
It can also be hard to decide which publishers to send your work too. By thoroughly researching similar books already on the market, you can start to create a list of agencies that may be interested in your work.
Follow the publisher’s submission guidelines
Once you’ve decided on your chosen publishers, the next step is submitting your work. Submission guidelines can vary between companies, so it’s important to check what the agency is looking for before sending them an overview of your work.
Accept feedback willingly and well
While you may have spent hours tirelessly perfecting your work, publishers will more than likely provide you with feedback on how to enhance your writing. As a writer, it is natural to want to defend your literary choices however, this can create a volatile situation between you and the publisher.
Try to accept constructive feedback positively. While comments may seem cutting, it’s important to remember that publishers know the industry. Like cartridge firms know the ink and the paper mills are masters of their art, they know how to get your work in front of the right people. They are well in tune with what works and what doesn’t, and the earlier you identify your flaws the better to maximise your chances of success.
Don’t give up
Realistically, it’s unlikely that the first publisher you apply to will agree to publish your work. In a highly competitive industry, knockbacks are common — even some of the world’s bestselling authors have received them. For example, J.K. Rowling’s now worldwide phenomenon Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected 12 times before being published by Bloomsbury.
Some of the greatest written works were rejected initially, so it’s important that you stay confident in your writing ability and do not give up. Writing a book isn’t easy: it’s a long process that can take its toll at times. However, if you stay committed and positive, it can be incredibly rewarding.