Friday, 1 March 2013

A short guide to a high mountain

You’ve written the book. Your friends loved it. You’ve edited to within an inch of your sanity.

And it’s finally ready. Ready to take that leap into the unknown world of publication.

Publishing is an alien world to most of us. Unless you have worked in the industry, you probably have no idea who it works. Here are a few tips that you might find useful in your journey.

Unpublished authors can send their manuscripts (sometimes abbreviated to MSS) to publishers. Publishers call these unsolicited manuscripts, and they often end up on what is known as the ‘slush pile’. The chances of being selected from this pile are small, but not uncommon. Your work must stand out from the rest!                         Photo credit: Flickr

Approach is everything. The best way to get a publisher’s attention is to do your research:

Figure out what you are selling. This may sound obvious, but defining your book into something that a publisher will see as a sellable product can be harder than you thing. Find out what genre your book falls into, do research at a local library, and write a short pitch for your book and synopsis. You might find writing guides and ‘how to’ books helpful with this.

Investigate the companies you apply to. Make sure you send your sci-fi novel to a publisher that creates sci-fi books, and doesn’t specialise in romance!

Call and enquire. If you have questions, ask people in the know!

Find out about covering letters, and what your company likes to see in a submission.

List your credentials such as previous publications and competitions you may have won,

Follow the manuscript formatting rules for that company. If the publisher just wants a chapter, don’t send them the whole book.

Investigate all of your options when considering publication. Your book may suit traditional publication, or e-book publication. You may want to self-publish or crowd source the funding for your book. There are lots of options. Consider booking on to a writer’s course with a publication element, where you may get the opportunity to speak to people in the industry. The advice you can acquire may be invaluable.

You might also like to consider obtaining the services of a literary agent to help you. They normally take a commission, much like a publisher will. But their interests will be the same as yours – they want to make sure you publish your work. Make sure you select someone you can tryst, and someone that specialised in the genre you write.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means. There will be many pitfalls along the way. But if you truly believe that you have a cracking story to tell, and can actively market that, they you have a fighting chance of publication!

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