General Question

MissCupid's avatar

What's the best way to get a book published?

Asked by MissCupid (370 points ) July 10th, 2010

I wrote a book when I was 15 and tried to get it published, but because of my age and the fact I was living in the Middle East, I was met with many responses along the line of ‘get in touch when you’re 18 or back in the UK’.
I’m 29 now and I’m in the middle of re-writing the book using my more developed adult literacy skills and I want to try to get it published again.
Agents or publishers? Anyone have any experience in this area?

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18 Answers

marinelife's avatar

You need to look into query letters.

frdelrosario's avatar

Self-publishing is a lot better than it used to be.

Otherwise, find the publisher that publishes the kind of book you’re working on, and send a proposal. Then collect hundreds of rejection letters, after which you can either use them to gather strength, or — if you’re like me — get pissed off at all your friends because those publishers were so stupid.

perspicacious's avatar

Write a great book.

Coloma's avatar

Write for the love of writing.

Being a published author does have it’s perks, but, ultimatly it should be about the love of good sharing, story telling, or, as in my case, humor.

I’d enjoy a published status if it is meant to be, but… my greatest joy is making people laugh, whether that is through an email to a friend, an internet forum, or blogging for the fun of it.

I dabble with submissions a few times a year, mostly I just have fun, with myself!

frdelrosario's avatar

@perspicacious Writing a great book has nothing to do with getting published. It’s well documented that pranksters who submit Faulkner to publishing houses get dozens of rejection letters until they eventually run into an acquisitions editor who recognizes Faulkner.

@Coloma The primary perk to getting a publishing deal is distribution — like you said, it should be about sharing, and nothing shares quite like Amazon.

Coloma's avatar

@frdelrosario

Yes, well, every author has their own motivations, I don’t need the money, I don’t need the recognition, so the only thing that would float my boat would be the joy of someone wanting to share my silly musings with the the collective because they found value in my expressions.

perspicacious's avatar

@frdelrosario Well, it seemed like it would go into the equation. Admittedly, I know little about publishing. :)

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

First, you have to write an exceptionally good book.

Then, you have to get an agent. They will have the contacts in the publishing houses to get the book noticed.

Beware of any agent that asks you for money to represent you. They may ask to be reimbursed for copying and mailing your manuscript to publishers, but they should never ask you for money to be your representative.

laureth's avatar

There seem to be two choices: send it in to some publisher’s slush pile, or go ahead and self-publish. Chances are, you already know both of these options and how dismal they are. Getting an agent helps, I understand, because in theory, he or she has read your work and feels that it’s worth representing. Failing that, you might want to get a copy of the latest Writer’s Market so you can at least aim your manuscript submissions at somewhat more willing and receptive targets.

Coloma's avatar

@laureth

Yes, Writers Market is an invaluable resource. :-)

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I think you’ve missed your chance. They said get back in touch when you’re 18 years old. At 29, you’re over a decade too late. Sorry!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Seriously, one of the highest priorities that a publisher looks for in new writers is whether or not they have a second and third book nearing completion. This optimizes their investment, providing them with security beyond a one hit wonder. When approaching a publisher, best to have a second book practically completed, and a third book with a detailed outline. Descriptive ideas about additional books would also help.

It shows them that you are a writer with lots to say, and enough discipline to actually sit down and say it. They won’t think too highly of someone who takes over a decade to get the ball rolling.

ETpro's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Has a great point. At this stage, I would not even mention in submissions that you originally wrote this 14 years ago and the present copy is a rewrite. Also, be honest with yourself. The fact you feel the need to completely rewrite it now probably means it wasn’t really ready for prime time when you originally wrote it. There are examples of teenage prodigies who write great works, but they ware few and far between. Publishers back then were probably trying to find a gentle way to let you down without being insulting about it, in the hopes you would keep on improving your craft.

Good luck getting published.

PsychoticDiscoMonkey's avatar

It’s very hard to get a book published… Unless you know someone who is a Publisher themself. They can do the advertisements and normally find someone who can do Artwork too. I’d advise you to just advertise the book and Publish it yourself.

AlaskaTundrea's avatar

My first question would be, “What is your goal?” Yes, obviously to get your book into print, but after that, what? Getting a book into print is remarkably easy nowadays, something that can be done in a relatively short amount of time using modern methods. So, that’s the easy part. What do you expect to happen after the book is in print? Do you have a marketing plan? Even large companies, large, well-known companies, expect the author to do most of the marketing nowadays, so you need a plan. Do you expect to print a few copies and give them away to friends? Print and, yipee, sell a few copies, with no eye toward huge sales? My advice as both a writer and niche publisher would be that you’ve got to know the answer to that before you can really make the wisest decision on how to get your book published. How hard are you willing to work to sell your own book?

Andreas's avatar

@MissCupid If you go the self-publishing route, then take a look at lulu.com. Consider putting your work as ebooks on lulu.com for a price to get the ball rolling, and then giving away, say, the opening chapter or maybe an inner chapter, (but not the end one!)

You will need a marketing plan, which can include going to groups and forums that discuss your type of writing and become an active participant. If allowable, you can have a signature with the ebook’s web address (URL) in it.

You could maybe do a reading and place a recording on youtube.com with simple photographs from your computer that you own. Or similar. Use your imagination.

In his time, Charles Dickens in London did public readings for a fee in theatres and was very successful. Youtube.com might be a similar electronic format for you.

Don’t be scared to take your craft to the wider population where you live and do live readings wherever people are, by arrangement with necessary authorities, and let them hear the author in her own voice. You could then answer questions, etc. In this I’m thinking of shopping malls, etc.

You must be prepared to put yourself out there, so to speak.

Think out of the box.

I wish you well, and keep us informed.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
beachwriter's avatar

Someone above properly asked what your goal is in publishing this book. Did you write something like SE Hinton’s THE OUTSIDERS (which she wrote at 17), destined to become a classic? Is it a memoir of limited interested or a nonfiction work? Decide how you would like to see the book published, and then proceed toward that goal.

I have been in commercial publishing for 20+ yrs. If you want a commercially-published book, choose a publisher that does so (Random House, Hachette, Simon&Schuster, Putnam, etc.).

This is oversimplified but here are the steps:
1. write the very best book you can in your own distinctive voice, and make sure it is as technically flawless as you can make it
2. send a query letter to a literary agent who specializes in this genre
3. never ever ever pay a fee to an agent or publisher. In commercial publishing, the publisher pays the writer an advance + royalty, and the agent takes a commission from that.
4. make the deal, have it vetted by the Authors Guild and congrats! It is incredibly hard to publish a book well, which is why there are so many shady self-pub firms.

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