Posted on April 16, 2009 - by katy
First write a book…
If you want to get published, worry about that after you’ve finished your book. Write something you love, just for the fun of it.
Don’t bother writing about dragons because dragon books are really popular at the time. If you were to get published, by the time your book hit the shops, there would be a new craze anyway.
It sounds silly, but once it’s finished, you need to really read it.
So you’ve finished your book. Put it in a drawer or under your bed for a few weeks and then read it again. You are bound to see something that needs to be changed.
Be prepared for rejection. If your writing is special you will be noticed, but it’s not easy…
Publishers receive hundreds of manuscripts from hopeful writers every week. These join a teetering pile of A4 pages known as the “slush pile”. Some publishers are too busy to read the slush pile at all. Others gradually work their way through it and try to read everything, which takes months. There are always a few stories about masterpieces being discovered in this way but it is extremely rare.
Get an agent
A good literary agent will make sure your book gets noticed by the right person. They will have many contacts within the area of publishing they are interested in. Some agents specialize in children’s books, others in fantasy, some in non-fiction. There is no point sending your fantasy novel to an agent who only deals with books about football.
You can find a list of agents and the kind of authors they work with in the Writers and Artists Yearbook, which is usually available in your local library. If you find an agent who agrees to represent you, they will probably give some early advice on improving your book (called a manuscript at this stage).
When you are both happy, your agent will send the manuscript to editors at several different publishing houses.
Hopefully, one of these editors likes your book so much they take it to a meeting with the sales and marketing departments. If everyone agrees that the publishing house will eventually make a profit out of your book, the editor gets in touch with your agent and makes an offer.
Your agent will read through the fiendishly complicated contract, making sure you get the best possible deal. When the contract is finally signed, you’ll be paid part of your fee in advance.
It is only at this point that a reputable agent will take any money from you – usually 10-15% of your advance. Beware of any agent who agrees to read your work for a fee. If your writing is good, it will speak for itself to any agent or publisher.
Finally, don’t despair! It might seem that your book will never be published, but if you are talented enough and willing to work hard, you will get there in the end.
Don’t forget: publishers need new authors. These authors have to come from somewhere. One of them could be you.