You have written a book and you wholeheartedly believe in it. However, for others to read the book and express similar enthusiasm, it needs to first get published. So, how does one get their book published?
There are three options for publishing your book. The first and the most common one is traditional publishing. The second one is self-publishing, which is on its way to surpass traditional publishing in being the most common one. The third and the last option is vanity publishing.
In the simplest of terms, self-publishing means that you brace through the entire publishing process yourself and get your book out in front of people. There is no agent or publisher involved and you have to take care of everything, from editing to formatting and book cover designing to book distribution.
Vanity publishing is also a type of self-publishing but there is a publisher involved. You have to pay the publisher to publish your book. There is no selection of books and all books get published, as long as the payment is completed. However, they will take care of the editing, book cover designing and everything else.
Traditional publishing is the most common route of publishing and also the oldest one. Today, I will lay out the steps that are involved in approaching a publisher or an agent to get your book traditionally published.
1) Genre - Understand and figure out the genre of your book. It might happen that your book has no clear cut genre and has various genre themes that overlap. In such cases, go with the genre that seems most suitable.
This is important because some publishers have a preference towards a particular genre. Of course, there are publishers that publish books in a wide variety of genres. But the fact remains that if your book gets picked up by a publisher who has already had experience and success in publishing books of a particular genre, your book will have better chances of success.
So, choose carefully which publishers you want to submit your manuscript to. Take out time and go through their catalogues to get an idea of what kind of books they publish and if those books are doing well.
2) Manuscript - Make sure that your manuscript is completed before you reach out to publishers. Although you do not need to submit your entire manuscript to be considered for publishing, if your sample chapters and synopsis interest the publishers, you will be asked to submit the entire manuscript. So you will have to keep it ready.
A few publishers do allow you to take some time and complete it. But this is rare because there are millions of completed manuscripts in their slush pile that also want to get published.
3) Requirements - Read the submission guidelines of every publisher carefully. Go through the list again and again. Make sure that you follow each guideline carefully because failure to do so results in an automatic disqualification.
Usually, your submission requires a synopsis, three sample chapters and your profile. Format your synopsis and sample chapters as per their requirements; use the specified font and size. In your resume, mention any and all writing achievements that you have to your name, including the size of your social media following (if it's significantly large).
Also, make sure that the publisher accepts unsolicited submissions. Quite a few of them only communicate with literary agents.
4) Multiple submissions - Most publishers allow multiple simultaneous submissions. However, I recommend you submit to six publishers at one time and wait. It takes anywhere between three months to six months to receive a reply, if you do receive any.
If all publishers reject your book (not receiving a reply also usually implies a rejection), then it means that you need to improve your synopsis and sample chapters.
5) Synopsis - You can easily understand what sample chapters mean, but there is a catch with the term synopsis. Synopsis is the description of your entire book. It's basically a short summary of your story. Don't worry about spoilers and don’t hold back from revealing major plot twists and the climax. Write down everything in the same sequence that they occur in the book. Make the synopsis interesting and intriguing.
6) Literary agents - You need them to approach publishers that do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Once you find a literary agent, you will not have to worry about the various rights of your books, about submissions, etc. Your literary agent will take care of all that. They know the market and the right publishers to pitch your book to. Since they earn a percentage of your earnings, they will strive to get the best deal for your book.
However, literary agents are as difficult to sign with as publishers, if not more. You need to draft a good query letter and approach the right agents.
Follow the same steps as you would to approach a publisher while querying an agent. You will need the same requirements and need to follow each agent's guidelines carefully. Also, make sure that the agent accepts books of your genre because most agents are genre specific.
These are the basic points to keep in mind while looking to get your book published. As you dig deeper, you will find many more points to consider. But experience is the best teacher and you will learn the most by actually doing things.
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This article is written by Kulsum. Kulsum is the bestselling author of The Bleeding Wounds Series on Amazon Kindle. Her debut novel Love of a Stranger is published globally.