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Do’s and Don’ts for Your First Publishing Experience

Guide to Take the Best First Step!

by Kashika K

Publishing your first novel is an absolute dream come true. It is that moment of seeing all of the time and labour sitting in front of you, compiled and finished in entirety, that makes every effort seem worthwhile. This experience is obviously no easy feat.

There is so much that goes into the writing of a book and once that is completed, another challenge lies in front of us; publication. Getting your first novel out can seem like a daunting task, especially if it is your first time in the scene. Should you go the traditional route? Should you consider self-publishing your novel? What about agents?

To answer some of your questions and make the entire process seem a little less overwhelming, we have compiled a small list:

  • Do Not Be Hasty

The idea of finishing our novel is often the only thing we ever have in mind from the onset of the writing process. The seemingly never-ending road sees its dead-end when we do reach this feat, and we could not be happier. This may cloud our judgment when it comes to the correct time at which a novel needs to be put out. We have worked so hard for such a long time that it seems there is nothing else that is required other than publishing and revealing your work to the world. This might not be true.

Make sure that the novel you are submitting to agents or publications is absolutely flawless and the best version it can possibly be. The way to do this is to continuously go back and look for loopholes or the slightest possible mistakes. It is extremely important to take time away from your story so you can come back to it with a fresh perspective, making you notice things that you might have missed otherwise. Taking time away also helps you to not grow sick of your work after repeated readings every day.

  • Do Consider Hiring an Agent

With an increasing amount of writing and writers in the world, publishing companies often prefer engaging with writers through literary agents. This is not to say that you cannot directly approach publishing houses, but the chances of hitting it off and getting the desired result are slim.

Agents are established professionals who are connected to editors, companies, and can be the gateway into getting your work published. Especially for prominent houses like Penguin, Harpers Collins, etc, presenting your work through a reputed agent would increase your chances of publication multi-fold.

To reach out to literary agents, definitely go online.

Search up and research some options. Submissions that you would give to agents are similar to a publishing house; a query letter, a synopsis, some parts of your story, etc. Email and reach out!

  • Do Not Be Complacent

At the end of the day, the one person most passionate about your story is you. No other person is going to – or should be – working harder at getting your work published than you.

Whether it’s traditional publishing or self-publishing, remember that you have to sell your story to every person. Make sure that you are proactive in the promotion and actively involved in creating buzz around your work. Attend book fairs and start building a reputation for yourself. Writing blogs is also a great way to build a dedicated fanbase.

Another excellent idea is to use social media as your platform, something that can be an absolute game changer. This is going to sound overwhelming but remember that you need all the attention possible for your story.

For established publishing houses, the author already having an audience/fanbase for their writing is the most important thing in publishing fresh writers.

  • Do Read Your Contract Thoroughly

Signing with publishers is a dream come true. It is extremely important however, to keep your mind extremely alert and not get dazed by the awe you feel at the opportunity itself.

Remember that your publisher is supposed to be your partner, and do not hesitate to bring up anything that requires clarity or something you wish to negotiate over. Things like royalties, the date for your publication, publishing rights, etc should be in agreement with all parties involved.

  • Do Not Be Discouraged

It is a highly competitive industry, and making a name for yourself is obviously not easy. It can take years for someone to get published, and sometimes even more time for them to gain recognition for their work. This is not a bad thing at all.

There are sometimes extremely lucky writers, or people with excellent resources, who are able to hit it off on their debut novel itself. Do not be discouraged by looking at such stories and most importantly, do not measure your writing’s worth by just your first work.

Have patience and remember that you will get better and better in your craft over time, and do not stop writing.

  • Do Consider Self-Publishing

In order to avoid the hassle of going through agents and publications, a lot more writers are opting to go for self-publishing their novels. In case this is something that you are able to afford, it is definitely a great alternative.

Self-publishing gives you complete autonomy over your book and all the decisions concerning it including marketing, promotions, deadlines for writing, etc. That said, also keep in mind that you should hire professionals for say, your book cover, the cost of which you have to bear.

Self-publishing books are generally printed on a on-demand basis as opposed to the printing of publication houses. Remember to do your research and have a good grasp on factors like printing costs, orders, etc.

  • Do Not Dismiss Online Publishing

A lot of budding authors, especially first-time authors, prefer to release their early works online. E-books have become increasingly popular in the past decade, and a lot of sites allow you to publish your work with them, often for free.

Publishing your work online provides just as much of an audience as traditional publishing if not more. It also eliminates the time that you would take to reach out to literary agents and publishers, allowing you to put your work out as soon as you are satisfied with it.

Check out Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, or other online publications that you would like to work with depending on your genre.

  • Do Consider Hiring an Editor

For self-publishing, hiring a professional editor can make a massive difference in taking your novel to the next level. Not only are editors trained in understanding the relevant and important parts of any writing, their objective point of view as an outsider can lead to making your story better on the whole.

Try to find out about any editors in your network, and if there are none, you can always rely on the internet to find one for you. Depending on your budget, you can search for the perfect candidate. You should be in perfect tandem with your editor; their editing style should be comprehensible to you. You are both working together to make the best possible novel out of your writing.

Do remember to check out portfolios and previous works of any editor, make sure they are actually good at what they do and can help you out.

Getting your book out into the world is a tedious process, and is sometimes going to be a trial-and-error journey with certain aspects. Remember to work hard and deliver the best possible story you can. Regardless of where, how and by whom it is published, ultimately it is the content of your book that makes or breaks its fate.

Best of luck!


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