From Idea to Publication: The Journey of a Published Novel
Once you’ve written a novel you’re proud of and have spent the time doing edits (with or without an editor), it’s time to start querying your project.
If you’ve ever written and submitted grants you’ll realize that this part isn’t any different for writers. No two agents and no two publishers require the same thing from pre-published authors. One has to READ THE FINE PRINT carefully and tailor each submission as per individual guidelines. Some agents have online forms to fill out while others ask for email with a variety of items. Some may ask for a full book proposal, others are satisfied with the first three chapters. It is rare to find an agent who welcomes snail mail (but I did come across at least one in my research). Some request a cover letter with synopsis (a detailed road map of the stops and all the spoilers to the end) and sample chapters while others want the entire manuscript with or without all the extras.
I can’t stress enough to do your homework!
One thing I took away from my boot camp seminar with a literary agency was that if they receive a submission that doesn’t follow the guidelines, they won’t even look at it. It goes right into the reject pile. The reasons being several. So – if you want your submission to be read, READ the guidelines and then FOLLOW them to a tee.
There are oodles of resources out there to help an aspiring author to find an agent or a publisher.
An internet search will turn up thousands of hits that could take you days to search through. There are dedicated websites to aid your search (like Manuscript Wish List or Christian Writers Marketplace). There are online magazines which feature publishers or agents (like Writers Digest). There are some publishers who accept unsolicited and/or unagented authors (like Harlequin or Wild Rose Press). Sometimes publishers will open up a small window of opportunity to submit an unsolicited manuscript, meaning you don’t have to have an agent submitting on your behalf (like Hallmark).
There are Twitter pitches for various genres when authors can pitch an unpublished/unrepresented body of work to be picked up (like FaithPitch).
There are publisher blitzes and there are writing contests in which the grand prize is to be published with a small press. Check out writer’s blogs (like Seekerville or Writers Digest). At times they may feature a new editor or new agent trying to build their business. There are new presses popping up that may offer you the step up you need to establish your career.
Be wary though. There are scammers out there who will take you to the cleaners. Being a member of a professional writers group is an excellent way to find out information about publishers or agents you may be apprehensive about. Experienced writers will point you in the right direction. Another great resource is Writer Beware.
Once you’ve prepared your submission according to the guidelines, hit “submit” and get working on your next great novel! It’s a waiting game in publishing, so use your time wisely. Impress prospective agents or publishers with another book so that they see you are serious about your craft.
And that’s it. Time to start the cycle all over again.
Now go write your novel!