Hi there, I just discovered you blog and I think it's amazing! Congrats on your contract! :D I've recently finished writing my third novel and my friends and family keep prodding me to try to publish. Do you have any advice on how to get started on that? Thanks in advance ^^
Hi! Thanks for all of those nice words :)
First of all, I would just like to say that you shouldn’t try to publish unless it’s something you’re sure you want to do. No matter how stellar the book you’ve written is, you’ll receive tons of rejections. To withstand all of those, you’re going to need a belief in your work that doesn’t rely on external validation.
If this is something you really do want to pursue, I’d say there are three major steps.
1. Readying Your Manuscript for Submission
I don’t know whether this is a first draft, or something you’ve revised, but you’ll need to do at least three levels of revision: a macro-edit, a micro-edit, and a copyedit.
The macro-edit focuses on all of the big features of the book. This is where you make sure your characters are fully fleshed out; that your plot makes sense and has a defined beginning, middle, and end; that your world building is engaging and realistic, etc. There may be multiple macro-edits as you whip your book into shape.
Once you’ve finished the macro-edits, move on the micro-edits. Micro-editing is about making your sentences flow. In your micro-edits, you focus on fixing your dialog, descriptions, syntax, etc. You also fix any small plot holes, cliches, and character inconsistencies.
After micro-edits come copyedits. Here, you mainly fix spelling, grammar, and style errors. If you haven’t submitted work to formal workshops/writing classes, I’d suggest doing some research on how to style punctuation/paragraphs/pages in fiction. Fiction writing has a ton of largely unspoken style rules, and breaking these rules will make your writing appear more amateur and unrefined than it may actually be. Here are some great sources to check out:
Once you’ve readied your manuscript for submission, it’s time to actually prepare to send it out.
2. Finding Agents to Query
Most publishing houses don’t take unsolicited submissions. Instead, they take submissions from agents. So when you want to get your manuscript published with any of the big publishing houses, you should look for an agent instead of a publisher.
This answer is already going to be long enough without an explanation about what a literary agent is and why you should get one, so if you’d like more information, I’m going to direct you to this article:
An agent is someone who’ll support you throughout your career. This is going to be a very important relationship in your writing life, and so you should do quite a bit of research into them. There are a great number of sources for researching agents. These two are some of the most popular:
If you need some more advice about how to find the right agent, check out these articles:
Once you have a list of agents you’d be interested in representing you, you’ll notice that they all require query letters. Luckily, I’ve already typed up a thorough guide to writing one of those.
You’ll want to query a good handful of agents at a time: between six and ten. Agents may get back to you within a day or after a few months, so it’s a good idea to track who you’ve queried, when you’ve queried them, and what they’ve said. Query Tracker is a good source for this, but you can also just use a spreadsheet or a notebook. This article suggests not giving up until you’ve queried 80 agents or more, which could represent an entire year of querying.
(There’s a reason this is called the “query trenches.”)
Once you land an agent, the rest of your journey to publication will be decided in discussion with them.
Throughout this entire process, from step one to step three, you should be keeping up with the publishing industry, and doing your best to learn about it. There’s only so much I can cover here, and I’ve really only skimmed the surface.
- Listening to these podcasts, which will all provide you with vital publishing/writing advice
- Reading publishingcrawl.com, which I’ve linked to multiple times in this answer
- Reading sites like http://www.writersdigest.com/
- And keeping up with the authors you love on social media, many of whom will post about writing/the industry
Best of luck!