Getting your book traditionally published is a dream of many writers, of course it is very easy to self-publish your book, the likes of KDP Publishing and IngramSpark are two very popular print on demand services, who have helped millions of authors publish books themselves. However, getting the backing of a publishing house would give your book a huge advantage in the marketplace.
So, how do you publish a book in the traditional fashion?
Many authors try their luck by contacting publishers directly with their manuscripts, but it has to be mentioned that most publishers don’t take unsolicited requests from authors, so, your manuscript may end up in the house’s slush pile, where it could stay unread for years.
Now this may not be the same for every publisher, some of the smaller houses will take submissions directly from authors, but they will make it clear when and if they are accepting manuscripts, so it is worth checking their website or social media feeds before you send your book off to them.
But in most cases, the publisher will take recommendations for their next publications from the agents they work with, so before your contact lots of publishers, you may want to consider getting an agent to represent you first. This can be just as hard as getting your book accepted by a publisher, so it’s worth checking out this article on how to get a literary agent.
Do your research first
Whether you decide to try your luck going directly to a publisher or follow the more accepted approach in using an agent, you should research who will be right for your book and genre first. This can be done by looking at the best sellers in your own genre and looking at their acknowledgement pages, you will see details of agents and publishers here in many books. Failing this, you can go to AgentQuery.com or the Association of American Literary Agents or purchase the Jeff Herman guide to Publisher’s, Editors and Literary Agents book which gives you the most up to date list of who you’ll need to know within the publishing world.
Polish your manuscript
Before you send your book off, you must ensure that it is as perfect as you can get it, this means getting it proofread and edited first, now you could try to do this yourself (even then, it’s still worth researching how to proof read and edit your book first), but in most cases, it is better to get a professional to do this for you.
Make sure the first chapter is great
If you do get an agent or publisher to start reading your manuscript, your first chapter will decide whether they read any further, it should be well written edited and highly polished, if they lose interest at this point, your book won’t have a chance with them.
Write a great synopsis for your book
If you simply send off your manuscript to an agent or publisher without an attractive and well written synopsis, then the chances of your book being read (even just the first few pages) are minimal. You should take your time to write a well-crafted synopsis which is no more than two pages 500 to 1000 words max), giving the ‘elevator-pitch’ for your book.
It needs to get to the point quickly and is normally written in the third person, you should include the ending of the book, but don’t give full chapter by chapter breakdowns. The synopsis should give a brief overview of how the book flows and what is interesting about it.
Along with your synopsis you should also include a cover letter, again this should be well researched, confident and be an introduction to you and your book. Starting off by introducing yourself as an author, if you have won any competitions or awards (that are relevant) and summarizing your experience in writing.
You’ll next describe your book, introducing the title and the reasons as to why you wrote it, also, including a brief line or two on what is unique about the book. You should then move on to a brief summary of the book (remember, the detail will be in your attached synopsis), finally you’ll tell them that you have attached a copy of the manuscript (or chapter, if they only want chapters submitted and not full manuscripts).
Don’t give, you will get rejected, all the great authors have been, so when the rejection emails or letters start to pile up, keep going, if you need some inspiration, check out these 20 best selling authors who overcame rejection.
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