Even if you’re self-publishing, it can be pretty difficult to get your material in front of readers. Publishers, agents, and editors are overwhelmed with thousands of manuscripts every year. With so much competition, how can you get your own work noticed, and then published?
1) Educate Yourself – If you want to publish with a traditional publisher, get your hands on a current Writer’s Market (there is a general one, and many versions specific to each genre here) and then review works recently published by the company, or professional, you are looking into. Another great source when researching agents, editors, or publishers is Absolute Write.
2) Follow Publishing Blogs – the metaphor “seeking a piece of the pie” still holds true in the writing industry, and the best way to do so is by studying those who have already received a slice. The best advice, lessons, and up-to-date information come from the people who work in the industry. So find a few favorite agents, editors, authors, and publisher blogs. Then follow them faithfully, but don’t allow them to overwhelm your own writing time. A few I recommend following are , , , The Insecure Writers Support Group, and Nathan Bransford.
3) Write a Great Proposal and Query – Many agents, editors, and publishers have specific goals of what they are seeking. Be sure to research their individual guidelines. However, if you want general lessons on how to write a manuscript proposal, check out this FREE download from Noah Lukeman here.
4) Have Your Work Edited – Not many of us are capable of editing ourselves. So, whether it’s a friend who was an English major, fellow authors from your writers group, or a select group of beta readers, be sure to ask at least a few others to review your proposal, query, articles, or manuscripts. You might even consider hiring the services of a professional editor. Be sure to check out the free site Preditors & Editors, or the two sources mentioned in #1 so you know you are hiring a legitimate individual.
5) Consider An Agent – Most of the larger and more traditional publishing houses will not review work unless it is submitted by an agent. However, there are many smaller presses, and open call periods which do not require you to be represented. Consider your goals for your manuscripts and then review the Writer’s Market or Absolute Write sites mentioned in #1 before deciding.
6) Consider self-publishing – It’s not always the best choice, or even the easiest, but there are times when it is the right choice. For example, if you have a very specific and narrow target market, or if you just want to share shorter works in between full-length manuscripts, then this may be the choice for you. Hybrid authors (those who publish some works through traditional means, and some on their own) have become the norm. Need help deciding? Check out this article: Should You Self-Publish?
7) Don’t Give Up – Even the most seasoned and successful authors struggle with bouts of frustration or self-doubt. We all go through periods of wanting to give up. Numerous rejections, family and work responsibilities, and so much more can slow down and interrupt your ability to create. Nothing worth having comes easily. As I reminded you last week, one of my favorite quotes is by Winston Churchill, "Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about."
What advice do you have for first-time or struggling authors?