Updates! Updates! Updates!


As many of you can see, I've been a pretty terrible blogger lately! What can I say...Life.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Interested in Getting a Novel Published? Here's How You Can Get There!

With the first WYE? poll coming to an end, I thought it would be nice to find an article that would compliment it. So, for those of you who have never tried to get your novel published, or perhaps don't know how, here is a great bit of information to get you started! Also, if you haven't voted on the poll (located at the bottom of this blog) please do so! It will be over in the next few days and a new poll will be replacing it.

Anyway, here's the article...

WARNING! Be prepared for some work!

How To Publish Your Book: Advice for Writers Interested in Publishing Their Work.

The very biggest publishers won't look at much of a manuscript unless you have an agent, but even they will have a quick glance at non-fiction work. And most of the medium sized to small publishers (which often are much better choices for a first-time author) are happy to look at manuscripts "cold." So don't think you need to shop for an agent just yet. (On the other hand, you might want one, since an agent would do for you all of the arduous work I am about to describe - for a fee, of course.) Without an agent, you first need to do research on presses. You then prepare a package to submit (about which more later) and then make follow-up calls. After that, it's a question of the book's merit and luck.
Oh! Buy a notebook and keep records of all your interactions (what days you send a package to whom, who you talk to, etc. If you submit to 30 publishers and have four interactions with each, you're not going to remember when so and so's secretary asks when you sent this, that or the next thing.

A. Finding Appropriate Publishers

***NOTE: If you don't know where to start, look on your own book shelf or in your favorite section in the bookstore. I bet you will find the kind of publishers that will fit YOUR book***

I'm afraid I can't shorten your work for you by suggesting the obvious publishers for your book. But here's how to go about finding probable publishers:
Visit a good bookstore and a very commercial bookstore (I'd go to Borders and to Atlantic) and scour the section that shelves books the most like yours. You should find as many as you can that are comparable to the book you're writing/written. Look on the spine for the name of the publisher. These, obviously, are the publishers most likely to be interested in your work, since they know the market to whom they can sell it. These publishers should form part of the list of publishers you will contact. You can get their addresses and phone numbers by...
Visit a library (any university library) and look through both of the following reference books, in their most current editions. First, Writers Market, which lists all the publishers in the country and the sorts of books they put out, as well as gives advice about how to submit. It gives phone numbers and addresses. It's divided into topics, so you can go right to the sections you thinks your book fits (Women's? Health?) and skip over shit like Agriculture. The second book is Literary Market Place (LMP), which is more or less the same thing, but a little less user-friendly, since it's organized from the publisher's rather than the writer's point of view.
From these two sources you friend should be able to compile a fairly good list of publishers likely to be interested in their work.

B: Finding Out Who to Send To

***2ND NOTE: A lot of publishers have all this information online***

Call each of the presses on this list and speak to the secretary in order to get the name of the appropriate acquisitions editor (even if it's listed in the LMP or the Writer's Market, your friend should call again. These things change quickly) for the subject you're writing about (again, I'm not sure. Women's Health? Fashion?). Ask if there are any special protocols for a submission from an unpublished author (sometimes there are weird things, like only send to this PO Box, or only mail by UPS, or only proposals, no finished manuscripts, or something else. Usually not, but if so, the receptionist will surely tell you). Ask, as well, how they like to handle follow up inquiries.

C. What to Send

Obviously, if anyone gives your friend explicit instructions or advice, you should follow it. Otherwise, a package should include:
A cover letter. or proposal, describing the book, what your friend thinks is good about it, what strengths it has and so on.
A good sample chapter/section or the entire manuscript if it's in good shape.
If you want materials returned, you should include postage etc. It's a little tacky, however, so unless you're sending really expensive photographs or something, your friend should be prepared to lose the materials you submit.

D. Send a Package to Everyone on the List

E. Follow Up

The point of a follow up call is simple: to make sure that the editor who will decide on your book, or pass it along to the person who decides, takes a look at it and gives it some consideration. Your friend cannot persuade someone to publish your book if they don't like it, or don't think it fits in with their line; the follow up call is not, in that sense, a sales call. But you should find out if they've looked at the manuscript. If no, you describe the book (make it sound interesting, but be succinct) and convinces them to take a look. If yes, you can, maybe, ask why they decided to pass. And you may get some valuable feedback this way.
Follow up even if the secretary told you when you called that you shouldn't follow up. You have nothing to lose, so long as you're polite.

F. If All Else Fails

If your friend is getting bad feedback, you should start thinking about getting some editorial assistance (people who help with writing, or packaging a book) or perhaps even consider joining a writers group. If it gets to that, let me know. I know some good editors here and in New York.


Original link to this article: http://books.eserver.org/nonfiction/how-to-publish.html


  1. What about submitting to journals? I don't think you really need agents for those and it's a good means through which to publish short stories. You don't have to daunt yourself by writing a novel just to get published.

  2. This was striclty an article on publishing novels. I think novel writers have the hardest time getting published. It feels more daunting, but this article provides practical steps towards making that process easier and more effective.

    But of course submitting to journal/magazines is a great way to start getting poetry and shorts published as well.

  3. No, I'm not good at setting a word count or time limit for myself each day. I'd fail on the first day.

    Plus, I'm rewriting one of my novels right now and that's taking up a lot of my time. Not to mention writing this blog every day. I'm just happy that I am writing more these days. I stopped for a while there because nothing was coming to me. The voices in my head were staying silent.

    It probably had more to do with how hectic my last semester at CMU was. I had three literature classes and two history classes, I was reading and writing essays every night, I got really sick for the last four months and didn't know what was wrong with me, turns out I had pre-ulcers, so I wasn't sleeping, and I had four research papers due in the last two weeks. It kind of sucks the creative energy out of you.

    I feel like I'm just getting it all back.

  4. D:

    I had no idea. I'm afraid my time here will wind up that way because I've been putting off my required courses in favor of electives and now I'm gonna be piled with boring and arduous classes. Plus, I'm considering going for the grad program.

  5. Just don't get sick. It makes everything like a million times worse.

    Which grad program would that be? One for English or creative writing?

  6. I don't imagine I'll get too ill. I don't stress much about schoolwork.

    Creative writing. I already have my panel in mind for my thesis.

  7. What are you thinking about for your thesis?

  8. Just collecting several short stories that I've written. It's a few years down the line, so I may come up with an alternative by then.

  9. I thought you had to write an enormous research paper for a thesis.

  10. For creative writers, you just have to write a story of so many pages in length or submit short stories totalling 30 pages.

  11. i didn't know that. That's awesome!!! Honestly, one of the only things that has prevented me from considering graduate school was that stupid thesis. I didn't want to have to write a gigantic research paper on something no one was interested in. Such a waste.

  12. Ha, well your presumptions were certainly misconstrued. You should reconsider it.

  13. The only problem is that i don't know if I would go to graduate school for creative writing. :( I just have to look into it some more.

  14. Understandable. You have potential to do so much more than just write.

  15. Ouch, I'm sorry to hear you were sick and I hope you're doing better!

    Great advice in this post, most of which you wouldn't normally think of, but seems very common-sensical to me. Especially the bit about following-up.

    This is so crucial in business, but like you said, "be polite" and don't tick them off!

    As a former (thank God!) Real Estate Agent, I can tell you that following up is a big part of any potential business transaction.

    They probably appreciate it when authors call periodically (not sporadically or incessantly) to follow up, and check on the manuscripts status because it tells them who are the ones that are more serious and willing to establish a business relationship. This keeps the fresh, viable manuscripts on the top of the pile and dead ones from introverted, uncaring, or difficult to deal with authors on the bottom.

    Don't use these calls to complain, harangue, interrogate, ask stupid questions or kiss up! Keep it friendly but professional. Be brief and concise, but don't run from a more in-depth conversation ( preferably not a monologue) if it seems that you've got an interested person on the line. But don't get discouraged or offended if you get a rude, distracted, disinterested, or plain nasty person on the other end. Everyone has their bad days, months, or years. Don't let secretary's bad-hair-day get in the way of you achieving your goal.

  16. Some rather excellent advice! I completely agree.


Thank you for adding to the conversations! This blog is a part of the "Follow Me If You Dare Revolution!" Join the Revolution here...http://whosyoureditor.blogspot.com/p/do-you-dare_18.html...to promote the best kind of following!