Some authors say that it is more difficult to find an agent than a publisher. It is certainly true that an agency lives or dies on its ability to make money for the client and therefore for themselves, and for this reason an agent will only take you on if he or she is confident that there is a market for your book. Don't mess it up by being anything less than thorough. Finally, if you are lucky enough to have an agent interested in representing you it is important to remember that it is not enough for them to wish to represent you, you must choose to select or appoint them.
If you do choose to go it alone or have been unsuccessful in finding an agent your next option is to contact a publisher directly. You've heard about the slush pile, the stack of unsolicited manuscripts that every publisher has; every year or so the press report on an author plucked from the slush pile to receive a three-book deal and a huge advance. To improve your chances, it is essential that you start by researching the market.
Publishing is a commercial business and a publisher will need to be convinced that there is a potential market for any book that they decide to publish. Find the right publisher. First of all, think about who would be a good fit for you and your book. Have a look at the titles in your local Waterstones, and see who publishes books that yours might sit well next to - if you've written a crime novel, find out which publishers have a crime list, or even specialise in the genre.
If you've written a historical biography, browse the history section to see who the relevant publishers are in this field. Don't ignore the independents - publishers such as Canongate, Quercus and Tindall Street have all published books that have become bestsellers and won literary awards. When you've decided which would be the best publisher for you, find out if they accept submissions, who and where to send them to, and in what format.
Ring or email first to find out who is the best person to receive your work. Presentation is important. Submit your material in the most appropriate format for the publishers. They'll probably ask for the first two or three chapters and a synopsis of the whole book. Your pitch starts with the covering letter so make sure you explain why your book is worth publishing and why they are the perfect publisher to do it. Computers and the Internet have made self-publishing easier than ever, and if the traditional publishing route is denied to you, it may be worth considering.
Self-publishing can be a huge undertaking but many authors have published their own work successfully in the past. However, if you do go down this route, you will have to learn to be more than "just" a writer. Friends and family will give you feedback, but it may not be honest or frank. A bookshop manager or buyer will be able to say very quickly whether your book is likely to appeal to a readership. The conversation may not necessarily be a comfortable one, but that bookselling experience may make all the difference between a book design that's commercially viable and one that won't sell.
Once you have decided to take on the challenge of self-publishing and have settled on the fundamentals of your book, you may want to contact Waterstones Independent Publisher Co-ordinator, who will offer guidance on how to get essential information on your book to Waterstones. The line between vanity publishing and self-publishing can be a grey one, but generally if you are paying someone else to publish your work, then you are dealing with a vanity publisher.
Mainstream publishers invest in the promotion of a book and make their profit from its sales. Vanity publishers on the other hand, make money from upfront charges. Whatever decision you make it is essential that you investigate your options thoroughly before you part with any money. There are millions of blogs on the internet, covering a myriad of subjects. While many just serve a diary or notebook function for the random thoughts of their countless authors, others have a more focused approach.
Several blogs have made the jump from online content to published book recently. This bestselling guide to markets in all areas of the media is completely revised and updated every year. Each edition is packed with comprehensive articles and advice - often from famous names such as J. The annual, bestselling guide to all aspects of the media and how to write and illustrate for children and young adults. Acknowledged by the media industries and authors as the essential guide to how to get published. Together they provide invaluable guidance on subjects such as series fiction, writing historical or funny books, preparing an illustration portfolio, managing your finances, interpreting publishers' contracts, self-publishing your work.
They may like your style, but think that another type of novel is more saleable. Tread carefully. The agent may be right — they know the market, after all. The best agents will not only help you get published, they will manage your career, help you develop as a writer, and think about your long-term potential as an author. Ideally, this will be a long-term working relationship — so pick one you think you can work with. So it pays to spend a bit of time and effort into making the right match — for both of you.
Once you accept an offer, the next stage is to sign an agreement with your new agent — and for them to start working for you! As a newly-minted author, you will quickly become used to legal paperwork. There are two main contracts to be aware of:. There will be other contracts — but your agent can advise on them all. A key one is an Option Agreement, which is when a film or TV production company buys the rights to adapt your book.
The basis for this sale will be the materials you submitted earlier probably with a bit of reworking , plus a formal pitch from the agent, which will include some information about the market and commercial potential of your book. This to can be a lengthy process. She was subsequently also rejected as Robert Galbraith. When a publisher makes an offer your agent will handle the contact negotiation. If more than one makes an offer, you may even get into a bidding war. You should also take into consideration what editorial support the publisher will give you, how much marketing they will do — and how much they will expect you to do — and how well they are likely to do with it based on previous books.
Your agent can advise on the pros and cons and make recommendations. Publishing advances vary wildly. You might get anything from low four figures for a niche publication with a small publisher, or up to six figures from a big publisher who thinks your book has major commercial potential. Remember that an advance is literally an advance on royalties.
How to Write a Book and Get it Published | Now Novel
It is an advance payment against money that your book will subsequently hopefully earn in the future once you get published. You will get a royalty statement from your publisher once or twice a year, which your agent can help you understand. Only when your royalty account has earned out your advance will you earn additional income from royalties.
Each is the subject of a negotiation between publisher and bookseller. Your payments will usually be staged. And that might apply to three books.
If you want to get published, it pays to learn not only about the craft of writing, but as much as you can about the pubishing industry. Arm yourself with knowledge. Read blogs, read books, listen to podcasts, subscribe to trade magazines, go on courses or attend events. Your hard work will pay off. As soon as your first book publishes, the pressure will be on to publish your next!
Jon Reed is an author, screenwriter , publisher and social media consultant. He is the author of Get Up to Speed With Online Marketing 2e, Pearson Business, and the the founder of social media consultancy Reed Media , which offers social media management, training and consultancy. Jon started Publishing Talk in following a year career in publishing, including as publishing director for McGraw-Hill. We're talking about Room to Write — Isabel Losada writes narrative nonfiction anywhere and everywhere 10 essential books for writers 5 things you need to know about agency agreements 10 Twitter hashtags for writers Traditional or indie?
Hybrid author Nick Spalding looks at publishing from both sides 10 ways to use LinkedIn to find a publishing job Why weddings can be murder for Val McDermid Print on demand for self-published authors 10 golden rules for work experience 10 marketing tips for self-published authors 7 ways to use small thinking to achieve your writing goal Brexit: What does it mean for the publishing industry?
How to get published — at a glance: Identify your genre Showcase your writing Find a literary agent Prepare your materials Submit a query letter Get a publishing contract! Identify your genre What sort of book have you written? Genre Your book may not fit neatly into an obvious genre such as science fiction, historical fiction, crime or romance.
Comparisons In addition to genre, think about which books — or even film or TV — your book might be considered similar to. Publishers want a hook to hang your book on. An editor will first need to convince his or her colleagues to publish a book — partly with sales figures of similar titles. This is a similar type of story by an exciting new author. For example, the Amazon. Showcase your writing If you want to get published, first publish yourself. Start a blog I used to lecture creative writing students on social media marketing — and always advised them to start a blog now , rather than waiting until they got a book deal.
Self-publish first Self-publishing can help you get published traditionally. Find a literary agent Most publishers will only accept submissions via a literary agent.
How to get published – 6 steps to a traditional publishing deal
They will: Know the market Have the right connections in the publishing world, and know who to approach Get the best deal for you Handle contract negotiations on your behalf Manage your rights. You will retain your rights to e. This is a good thing. See also: Backdoor routes to getting a literary agent — by Kirsty McLachlan 7 ways to increase your chances of being taken on by a literary agent — by Andrew Lownie How to choose an agent — by Kirsty McLachlan 4.
Prepare your materials You will soon start preparing your query letter see Step 5 below. Sample chapters The purpose of your sample chapters is to flesh out some of your synopsis and, importantly, to demonstrate your writing style. See also: How to write a winning book proposal — by Sarah Such 5. Submit a query letter A query letter is a one-page sales letter that you send to a literary agent to pitch your book and ask them if they would be interested in representing you.
THAT’S ALL, FOLKS!
Coming soon: 7 things to include in your query letter — by Jon Reed Can I query multiple agents? What happens next? What happens when I get an offer? Get a publishing contract As a newly-minted author, you will quickly become used to legal paperwork. Always ask for a formal, written agreement. A publishing contract — your agent will handle this, and negotiate the best deal, in discussion with you. At first, your initial audience might include friends, family and members of a writing group. Later, invite readers of your other books or your blog.
Firstly, cultivate an email list of loyal readers who will read early or advanced copies of your book, offer to write reviews and so on. Secondly, invest time and money in learning and testing Amazon ads. They are relatively easy to use and will help you sell more copies. You will always see a gap between what you want to create and what you end up writing, but you can narrow the distance with each new book. It is really informative and attractive post.
I will recommend it to others. I am a widow, a pensioner and live alone. I have won various small prizes for poetry and short stories and I am content to leave it at that level. I follow your newsletters because they are so honest and extremely helpful no matter where anyone is with their writing and of course, because I have learned lots of useful tips from you. It is clear you care about people which is a rare quality in the competitive world we live in these days.
I found lots of helpful advice here and especially enjoyed your video. Hope I have not bored you but I really did want to say a big thank you.
How to Write a Book in 12222: A Definitive Guide for Writers
It is easy to just devour advice from those who make the time and effort to give it and you are one of the top writers for me that do so. Hi Leila, I appreciate the kind words. Congrats on winning the prizes too. Chat soon. As someone who has thought several times about writing a book, I found this post fascinating. Awesome to get a peek into your process and thinking about how I might adapt your methods to my own writing and working styles.
Hi Brent, Nice to hear from you again. I like hearing how others writers get things done. Appreciate the share too. Fantastic post! Thank you for sharing the wisdom of your experience, and doing it in such a useful way. I stumbled onto this post, and you have converted me into a regular reader.
This was a great post, Bryan! Thanks for sharing—especially about budgeting for publication. I found that helpful. Hi Bryan, Thanks for this very unselfish, captivating, and educational post.
I am in a lousy job right now, and think the time is ripe for a change. The way you set out the process of writing a non- fiction book is both honest and expert. May your career expand and help millions. I recommend this post very highy. HI Catrona, Nice to hear from you. Happy writing. Thank you for this excellent article. It has convinced me that if I cannot get an agent or publisher which at the moment I cannot then this is not for me.
Great post, thanks for sharing. As for cover design… Well I found it fairly easy: I made myself a Pinterest board of book covers I liked, and when I was ready, I arranged some objects, took some phitos, added the text, and ta-da! I think it would have been worth you saying something about the importance of finding a niche — especially if you are self-publishing.
For example, a recipe book for people with a dozen allergies; a book about parenting a child with a particular disability. Sometimes niches fall into your lap and you unintentionally become an expert, such as those two examples but they can also be researched. So finding a niche pays dividends, if you can find one. Do you know of a way to filter on Amazon for sales ranking? That Amazon tip is truly invaluable to me!
As someone starting out, the level of depth helps highlight things beyond just platitude level ideas and statements. The added links and resources, the thoughts to make visible several unknown unknowns that I had, and the clarity of it all will really help me on my journey.
Step 1: Find a strong, bestselling story idea
Thank you for the nice article Bryan. I am from India. The book came out very well, after 3 months of collaborative effort. Luckily editing was covered within the writing cost. Going good so far; my book is yet to be published. Wanted to thank you because I would have not known of any of these unless I stumbled upon your article. Thanks Bryan for this useful piece. I have loads of ideas and stories that are only in their first few lines but abandoned.
I have been trying to finish and publish for about 36 years now. Though my attempts have been hampered by too much of changing stations due to the nature of my rail service work in Nigeria and my getting in and out of school. However, my greatest enemy is my trying to be a perfectionist. I always end up dumping my work when what I am writing begins to go different from what I had in mind.
Hello Bryan Collins, Thanks for this informative article. It is very much appreciated for me. I am a blogger too. I am following you from 1 year. This is an amazingly helpful resource,Thanks for the direction, tips and inspiration. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. I'll send you a free ebook packed full of proven writing prompts plus an exclusive video masterclass. Skip to content Tweet.