Monday, June 17, 2013

How to Get Published

Step one:

Write a lot. Write the novel you always wanted. Write it during National Novel Writing Month. Write it while commuting on a train. Write it on rainy Sunday mornings. Write it during your lunch break. Write it after dinner. But whatever you do, finish writing it before you move on to step two.

Step two:
Edit the first three chapters.

You can edit more of it if you want but most agents want a sample, not the whole work, and they want the beginning because they want it to grab their attention. So edit the first three chapters as much as you can to get them super polished. Find a friend to edit them, if it helps, and be critical. Think about what you enjoy reading. Think about what makes you keep turning pages and apply it to what you've written. Make sure there's tension and intrigue and please, please, please make sure there are no spelling mistakes.

Step three:
Research agents.

Most agents will be based in major city centres, like London or New York. If they're not, be wary. An agent's job is to sell your product and that means moving within the publishing world. Most publishing houses are based in major city centres so you want your agent based there too.

You also want an agent that works with your genre so make sure you identify the authors they've worked with in the past and the sort of books they're looking for.

Also - you should never have to pay an agent to read your stuff. If it says they charge to read a manuscript, don't even consider them.

*You can go directly to publishers if you want but the majority of publishing houses don't accept unsolicited manuscripts or manuscripts without an agent. 

Step four:
Check the submission guidelines.

Some agents want a covering letter that includes a synopsis, miniature biography, word count, and a bit about your experience as an author/writer. Some agents want a covering letter with the title, word count and whether or not you've completed the novel.

Some agents want the first three chapters and a full page synopsis. Some agents want the first chapter or even just the first 500 words. Some want a synopsis like that you'd find on the dust jacket of a book. Others prefer a chapter breakdown, full list of characters and full chapter summary.

Some agents won't care how many other agents you've submitted a manuscript to. Others will be fine if it's just one or two others. Others still won't read your manuscript if they're not the only agency you're considering.

More agents accept online submissions these days, but there are still many that will require you to include a Postage Paid envelope so they can return your manuscript to you.

Step five:
Prep your manuscript for submission.

Follow the aforementioned guidelines and get your manuscript up to snuff for the agent(s) you'll be sending it to. Include everything they've asked for to the exact specifications they've used. Agents are very busy and they won't have time for a manuscript that isn't easy to process.

Step six:
Set it free.

Send your work out into the world. Most agents will get back to you within two or three months. They should have the expected turn around time on their website. It might be an idea to create a spreadsheet of the dates of your submissions. Follow-up when the allotted time has passed if you've not yet heard from them.

Step seven:
Start collecting rejection letters.

Read them. Review their feedback and apply any changes you can to your manuscript. Save them if you want or burn them if you like - that's up to you. But you will get rejected. You'll get rejected over and over and over and over again. Remember: When you get a rejection letter it means someone has looked at your work. It means someone has taken the time to consider it. It means your work is out there, doing something, instead of sitting on your computer or in journals or worse yet, still in your head completely unwritten.

Step eight:

Do it again. Keep writing, keeping researching agents, keep submitting manuscripts and keep collecting rejection letters. Persistence paid off. The most successful people on the planet, the people who are content in their day to day lives because they have build a life they love, worked bloody hard at it. They went out and made it happen. And there is absolutely nothing about them that is different from you.

If all that fails or if you're tired of waiting, publish it yourself. 

No excuses.

If you want something you'll make it happen. 

Wise at Any Age will be available to purchase on Thursday the 20th of June!

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