How to I start?
Typically, you pitch an idea or send a query letter before you write an entire manuscript that may or may not be accepted. Don’t pitch to a company that doesn’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. Don’t pitch a romance to a company that specializes in mystery or a children’s book to a company that specializes in adult literature. Do your homework. Check websites or get access to the Writer’s Market.
Do I send everything?
Never write or submit more than an idea or several chapters It’s unrealistic to expect one or more people to drop a current project and read your 50,000 words overnight.
What about a contract?
Never work without a contract. Contracts vary from company to company. Again, unless you are Stephen King, Lady Gaga, or a Real Housewife, don’t expect millions in signing bonuses. Traditional publishing houses are not going to extend any offer until you have proven yourself profitable. Small publishing houses don’t make those kinds of offers.
How long before I publish my book?
Just because you have finished writing, or assume you have a final product, that is not true. You are now in the hands of several editors and the editing process. And unless you are Ernest Hemingway, you need those editors. (See my blog about the publishing process and what does an editor do.)
You want the best for your “baby.” There are short cuts, but that doesn’t guarantee your baby will be healthy and thrive.
Where is your book? The most honest answer involves a tidy arrangement of piles and piles of manuscripts. You’re in there somewhere! So how do you move to the top?
- The top of the pile often depends on genre. If I’m looking for diversification in my catalogue, I’m looking for something different. Are you different? How so?
- The top of the pile often depends on the rules. Did you read our website? Are you turning in a manuscript that meets our minimum requirements? Unreadable manuscripts are often tossed–they don’t make it to the top of the pile.
- Moving to the top involves a series of rewrites according to an editor’s direction. Even an editor gets tired of fixing the same old comma splice over and over again, so to speed up the editing process, make sure your copy is as clean as it can be.
- Editors get busy. One novel can preoccupy months of the writing process. Be prepared for delays along the way.
- If you have spent two years writing a children’s book, don’t expect an illustrator to produce visuals overnight. Technically, if it took you two years, give the illustrator two years. Most illustrators work faster than that, but remember they are trying to make a living. Perhaps they have more than one job in the works. The final tweaking can be complicated.
- Layout and typesetting also take time. It’s easy for a book to get caught up in production and design. Remember, all you started with was a manuscript, and all you wish for is a book.
Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day. The featured image says it all.
Publishing Infographic: How A Book is Born
by Madeleine Crum