There is nothing more exciting for a writer than landing a book contract.
Once the satisfaction of actually completing your book has worn off, the process of jumping through hoops of hope begins
Book publishers and literary agents receive dozens of manuscripts a day. They will not trawl through every submission so you need to capture their attention from the outset. Your cover letter and one-page synopsis is the key.
Preparing your book submission
First time writers looking to publish a novel are recommended to complete the entire script before approaching a publisher/agent. It’s also a good idea to join a writer’s group and get feedback from other writers as you mould the plot.
You want to be confident of submitting your best work. Most agents ask for the first three chapters or the best three chapters of your book. Research submission guidelines so you know exactly what publishers/agents want before submitting and make sure the chapters you do send have been edited and you are completely happy with them.
For non-fiction books, agents prefer a book proposal rather than a written manuscript. A proposal is similar to a business plan and should be structured in a way that will convince publishers you have an exciting idea that will sell and be understood by readers.
Before pitching a book idea, research the market to determine if other writers have already covered the subject. If they have, how did the book perform, what information did they provide and how will your book be different?
Non-fiction authors stand a better chance of finding a publisher if you’re an authority in your field and have a public following. If you haven’t already, start a blog and open a social media network to build an audience.
Get an agent
Established publishing houses rarely accept book submissions that are sent directly to them without referral or request. The correct channel to go through is a literary agent.
Professional agents essentially act as a filter for publishers. They know the type of material certain publishers are looking for at any given time, and will assess whether your work is likely to get published.
If you haven’t received a response after six weeks you can either follow up with your preferred agent or try another option. If you are rejected but given feedback, use the advice to improve your work before sending it out again.
Literary agencies specialise in specific genres. For example, an agent that focusses on romance will not be interested in a horror novel. To avoid wasting your time and theirs, do your research beforehand. The Writers and Artists Year Book has a complete list of registered agents, their contact details and the categories of books they handle.
Whilst searching for a suitable publisher for your book, you may come across publishing services, otherwise known as vanity publishers. By and large, vanity press is not worth the time or the money, although do offer the potential of acting as a stepping stone towards landing an agent and publisher for your next book.
Vanity publishers are easy to identify. They usually advertise in national and local newspapers and writer’s magazines. Upon acceptance of your manuscript, they will lavish you with praise before dropping the bomb that it will cost you upwards of £3,000-£4,000 to publish your book. Orthodox publishers do not ask for an upfront payment.
Should you decide to go down the route of a publishing service prepare to do the bulk of the marketing yourself. A vanity publisher may include charges for a book cover and preliminary marketing such as posters and maybe a social media campaign, but authors are principally responsible for selling your own book.
A less expensive alternative is to self-publish, particularly an eBook.
Written by: Anonymous Guest Blogger
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