As my book was released and I became an official “traditionally published author” , I got a tonne of questions! Everybody who found out I was an actual author started to ask me a handful of things, and out of the few recurring questions, one of the biggest was, “how did you publish a book?”. People I met and talked to wanted to know how I had made such a dream a reality! For many, the publishing world is a dark mystery and everyone seems to be curious about how you take a bunch of words on a piece of paper and turn them into a book with a REAL LIFE PUBLISHER. So, I wanted to share my book publishing journey with you and tell you how to become a traditionally published author too!
Before you publish, you need to write!
I feel like this goes without saying, but I’m going to mention it here anyways! Before, you can even start to think about publishing a book, you need to think about writing a book. Writing a book is a huge feat, and an amazing accomplishment that sometimes takes years to complete. My book, Insolation, took me 5 years of writing, rewriting and writing again. I even went so far as to change it from first to third person, which was basically like writing a book again! Writing is something that takes time, effort and practice. You’ll have nights where you are up until the middle of the night writing until your eyes can’t see the words on the screen anymore.
Take time to let your book sit!
There is going to be a time when you sit back and say to yourself “I’ve finished writing the story!” . At this point, take a while and set your manuscript aside. I took 3 months to work on my blogs, my other novel and my screenplay. I needed to get away from the characters that I had meticulously created and the story I had crafted. You need to take time to think about what you are writing and get a new perspective. You will be so proud of yourself, and that’s great, I was too!
I wanted to shout it from the roof-top : “I FINISHED WRITING MY BOOK”.
But now isn’t the time to do that, now is the time to drink a glass of wine and let your book sit for a while. For me personally that was months, but for you that might be a week. Whatever your preference, you need to be able to look at the words you had written from a new perspective!
Then you need to edit, edit and edit again!
This is when the fun begins… if you like editing (which I definitely don’t). You will start to rework your story, add character traits to your supporting characters and you will change the structure of your sentences. There will be places where you will not be able to believe that you wrote something so good, or so terrible. There will be times you will want to delete entire chapters (and it’s okay to do that). Last of all, there will be times you will want to throw out the entire manuscript and say to hell with it! Don’t do this! Make it better!! Edit it, and edit it again, until it is something you love and are proud of. Remember, you already accomplished something by writing an entire book.
There will be times you will want to throw out the entire manuscript and say to hell with it!
After you are happy with it, get someone to read it!
This step is very important and where your “beta” readers come it. For me, this was my mom! I chose her because she isn’t afraid to let me know what she thinks and would have told me straight up if it was awful. She gave me a tonne of tips for how to make the whole thing better. She also gave me insight into where things didn’t make sense.
You need a person who will tell it like it is. You need someone who will let you know, from an outside perspective where something doesn’t make sense or you missed something. My book, is very intricately designed, and is the first of three. I needed some things to remain unanswered, but I also needed the reader to have enough information to want to wait for the second book to come out! This is why getting one (or a few) people to read your book is super important.
There are two routes to getting traditionally published: and it’s time to choose one!
This is the point where people will tell you to make a decision. This is because you have to choose between getting an agent or going straight for a publisher! Either option, no matter what you choose is going to be hard work from here on out.
Then the querying begins…
I started with trying to find an agent, and spent months querying and writing emails. I wanted an agent, even though they take a cut of your profits, to get me a deal with a huge publishing company,. I’m talking BIG 5, big. However, this was not mean’t to be. I got a lot of rejections and “maybe next-times”.
So, after waiting to hear back from all the agents, or their designated “waiting-time”. I started to query publishers!
You might be reading this, and ask yourself, why did you have to wait? Why can’t you just query both? Well from all the research I did, you need to do one or the other. The last thing you want to happen is an agent wants you and a publisher. You need to be careful of their time and their energy. They took the time to read your query and to either ignore you, or send you a reply.
What do you need to query?
Honestly, the only thing you need to begin querying is the ability to READ. This is the most important thing you can do: READ THEIR GUIDELINES AND FOLLOW THEM TO A TEE!
You will need short and long synopses. I wrote a 1 page, a 5 page and a 10 page. When you write these make sure that your novel synopsis includes the major events and how the book ends. You potential agent or publisher wants to know what to expect, so they can decide if they are actually going to take the time to read your book.
How do you find places to query?
GOOGLE! GOOGLE! GOOGLE!
There is only one place nowadays that you can get a list of publishers or agents for your novel. All you need to do is search your genre and type it in.
Remember: Really pin-point your genre so you are querying the agents and publishers who are like to help you get your book traditionally published!
After the first round, if you haven’t heard anything, switch gears!
If you’ve been querying for a long time to no avail, it might be time to cut your losses and switch gears. Before you start querying the other in the agent/publisher dynamic, take a while and re-read your query email and your synopses. Sometimes the smallest spelling mistake, or the slightest change in the way you’ve written everything can make it or break it for you.
Keep trying and never, ever, give up! (Especially if you want your book traditionally published!)
I’m saying this for my own well being, because I had so so many times that I thought for sure I was going to give up on my dreams and throw away my first book! But I persevered and kept pushing until I found an amazing publisher who was willing to give this first time author a chance.