How to Get a Book Published
Many writers dream of getting a book published by a major publishing company. In fact, it’s how many define success. I had lunch with a potential editing client the other day who felt getting published—complete with lucrative publishing contract—was more important that writing a great book. But as aspiring authors, how can we help it? We’ve all heard stories of six-figure advances and national exposure. For those lucky authors, the commercial publishing contract is the fastest path to success.
So how do you do it? Is it even possible?
Well, anything’s possible, right? I could win the lottery if I bought a ticket. Luck has a lot to do with getting a book published, I think. Persistence probably pays off. But to get one of those high-profile contracts, or a publishing contract at all, you have to rise above everyone else and prove you have what it takes to write and sell a profitable book. Thankfully, there are ways to improve your chances.
If you want to get a book published, consider the following secrets I’ve heard to attracting editors’ and agents’ attention.
1. Write Your Absolute Best Book
Although this may seem obvious, you might be surprised at how many writers send off manuscripts that aren’t ready. But when agents and editors are swamped with manuscripts, you may only have one shot to make a professional impression. If you want to be taken seriously and get your book published, then you need to do everything you can to make sure your book is the best it can absolutely be. It must reflect your authentic voice; it must be compelling; and it must capture and hold the reader's attention.
2. Build a Platform
You can’t come from out of nowhere if you want a publisher to risk thousands of dollars buying your book. You need to establish a record of experience and expertise. For creative writers, this means publishing smaller pieces in magazines and journals. For self-help, business, and how-to authors, you must promote yourself and your ideas through speaking engagements, publishing articles, and publicity.
Other ways to build a platform include selling 5,000 or more self-published books and building a big e-mail list of fans. A platform lets editors and agents know that people like you and you’ll probably be able to sell a lot of books.
3. Make Connections
If you don’t live in the city, then making connections in New York can seem impossible. It’s not; and knowing someone in the business (or with connections in the business) can be the break you need to stand out and sell your book to a major publisher. What can you do to make connections? Attend writing conferences and publishing events; network with other writers; and tell everyone you meet that you’re a writer. You never know when a friend of a friend will work in the publishing world.
4. Consider the Scenic Route
Many popular authors, from Walt Whitman to E.L. James, started as self-publishers. The New York publishing route isn't best for everyone—it depends on your situation, your topic, and your goals. And sometimes the better way to attract their attention is by proving yourself through self-publishing. You may even learn that you’re happier (and more profitable) on your own.
5. Learn Everything You Can about Getting a Book Published
Perhaps the most important piece of advice I’ve received in my writing career is to learn and follow the rules of the game. Part of being taken seriously as an author is following the established industry culture. If your query letter isn’t formatted correctly or runs on for three pages, agents won’t bother looking at your book manuscript. And mistakes can be detrimental if you’re self-publishing too.
About the Author:
Melinda has ghostwritten fifteen books and has an MFA in creative writing. Her own work has been published in newspapers, magazines, and literary journals, online and in print. She helps her clients get their books done and into the world. For more information, visit her at www.writerssherpa.com.