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How to Get Published

Rob Parnell

First of all let me state categorically: unless you're deliberately self publishing and are in control of the whole process, never pay to get published.

There are a lot of so called 'publishers' on the Net that pretend to be bona fide, will get you to sign an exclusive contract and then ask you for money to publish your book or provide some other service. This is usually a scam in action.

Traditional Publishing

Okay, there really is only one way to get published and that is to submit, submit, submit.

There's no secret, there's no magic formula and there are certainly no guarantees but that's the heart of it - submitting your work to publishers and agents is still the best and most effective way of achieving publishing success.

You need to do it right of course. You need to look up suitable publishers and agents in Writers Yearbooks (buy them or consult them at your local library) or find their websites on the Net.

Next study, and I mean really study, their guidelines and follow them to the letter. Don't think that it doesn't matter if you're slightly outside the guidelines - it does. You're wasting postage and everybody's time if you submit outside the guidelines.

When you're sure you are about to contact exactly the right person, or organization, mail out your work. Yes, mail it, with return postage.

Make sure your work is formatted correctly - double spaced on one side of Quarto or A4 white paper, plenty of margin on the sides - say an inch and a half or 5cms. Number the pages in the top right hand corner along with the MS title and your name on every page.

Don't bind the manuscript and don't use any staples or paper clips.

Use a title page that has all your contact details and what rights you are offering, whether it be North American Serial Rights for articles in the US for instance. If in doubt just put 'Submitted for your consideration', something like that - it's not important.

Include a brief letter explaining what the MS is about, a little about you and why you're the best person to have written the MS and perhaps a line as to why you think the publisher/editor/agent should or might be interested in it.

For non-fiction book proposals, again follow the guidelines precisely.

And that's how it's done. It's what 99% of all successful writers have done before you and will continue to do until technology takes over and submitting via email becomes more prevalent - even then the format should stay the same.

Incidentally, publishers don't want email submissions for mainly legal reasons. They're worried that if a rejected writer can prove his or her MS was on their computers before the time they release a similar book, the writer might be able to sue for plagiarism - and win. As long as they only have paper versions lying around they can simply say, 'We never read it.'

But don't get too hung up on the legal side. You don't need to copyright your work - your copyright is enshrined in law the moment your words are on the page.

You certainly don't need to register your work with Congress or anything silly like that. Don't rush out and buy an ISBN - that's the publisher's job.

If you're especially paranoid you might want to send yourself a copy of your work by registered mail - and keep it unopened pending your day in court. Otherwise, just relax. You're more likely to get hit on the head by a coconut than be plagiarized by anyone with enough money to sue.

Manuscript Assessment

Okay, you've probably heard me bang on about this before but it really is important. It's become part of the process of getting published for most serious, career writers. Don't automatically think that it's not for you.

Before you send out your work, you should be aware of its strengths and weaknesses. You should have it professionally assessed at least once and act on any recommendations.

Publishers are swamped and don't nurture talent like they used to. They certainly don't like reading MSS that need work.

Nowadays, given the competition, you really can't afford to send out anything but your best work and besides, publishers are far more likely to be interested in a MS that has been through this process. Give it careful consideration.

Contacts

I've noticed over the years that networking can definitely help the writer's career. Join writer's groups on and off the Net. Go to writing events and foster relationships with other writers - it all helps.

And when you are fortunate enough to meet publishers and agents, remember, they're normal people, just like me and you. Don't treat them like gods or scum - just be nice, be yourself. And don't pitch ideas to people who aren't interested. There's no point.

Co-publishing

Very occasionally you might come across a bona fide publisher that will want money to 'co-publish' with you. Research them thoroughly and don't over-commit yourself. It might work out but remember that if the publisher needs your money to get your book out there, he's obviously not making enough money to do it himself.

Vanity Publishing

This is where you pay a 'publisher' to design and manufacture your book - they usually assume no editorial control and have little interest in your work. They just do it for the money - and it's usually expensive.

It's then up to you to sell your books. If you don't, you'll end up having to store them or pay, yes pay, to have the same publisher destroy them. Not good.

POD

By far the best way to self publish is via Print on Demand. Technology has enabled POD printers to produce one book at a time quite cheaply. The most expensive part of the process is designing the artwork for the cover. After that a reputable POD printer can usually knock up a copy of your book for you in a matter of days.

Of course, you then have to think of ways of selling your book (because, in effect, you then become its publisher) but, if you're desperate to see your work in print, want leave a few copies of your book to your grandchildren, or you think it's a good career move, POD is definitely worth investigating.

Ebooks

If you think you have a commercial enough book with no takers in the real world, you can always create a PDF version and try to sell it on the Net. It's a process that can be time consuming - marketing is fairly labor intensive for instance - but can yield rewards over time.

I could go into much greater detail in all these options - and have done elsewhere - but I wanted you to get an overview before you venture out there.

Best of luck on your quest for publication!

Keep Writing!


rob@easywaytowrite.com
Your Success is My Concern
The Easy Way to Write

THIS WEEK'S WRITER'S QUOTE:

"The harder you work, the luckier you get."
McAlexander

Previous Newsletter includes:
Article: "How Does Your Writing Grow?"
Writer's Quote by Barbara Kingsolver


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