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can someone explain how the process of getting a book published actually goes?

i want to know about the submitting procedure and what kind of communication to expect while i wait for the novel to be approved or not. also the rights i have re the manuscript and do publishers actually want to meet you in person.

2 Answers

  • A User
    Lv 7
    8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    You submit to an agent following their own personal submission guidelines. You must find these out for every agent. Then your agent helps you to find a publisher, again following the publisher's submission guidelines.

    The communication you can expect is I think nothing until you get a letter of rejection or a letter that says "send me more". No need to hassle them about it. They usually have a note on their website that says "expect an answer within 6 months" for example.

    The rights you have depend on your contract with the publisher. You can expect to retain the copyright and be paid an advance and royalties. Details are to be negotiated.

    The publishers will definitely want to talk to you on the phone. I'm pretty sure the rest of it can be done my email and snail mail - at least for a first time author.

    Here is some information to get you started:

    First of all, you do not contact anybody until after your book is finished. Your ideas and unedited unfinished manuscripts are worthless.

    Second, all writers should know Yog's Law: the money ALWAYS flows towards the author. Any agent who asks you for money upfront is a scammer. Any publisher who asks you for money upfront is either a scammer or a vanity press and often enough, they're both.

    1/ Write your book to the highest standard. Learn all you can about the craft. Get it criticised by people who are neither your friends, family or teachers. Get your ego crushed. If they say it is terrible (and they will. All first drafts are awful), ask why. Ignore anybody who says it's great, they're not helping. Follow people's advice. Then rewrite it all. Go get crushed again. Rewrite. Then edit and edit and edit. Repeat that process as many times as you need until people are just criticising tiny unimportant details.

    Keep in mind it is UNACCEPTABLE to have grammatical, punctuation or spelling errors or typos in a manuscript you submit.

    2/ Research. A LOT. Research how the publishing industry works. When you know how things work, start researching for an agent. Writers' Market is there for that purpose. Find agents who cater to your genre. Do a background check on them to make sure they are legit. I suggest the forum Absolute Write to start with. These guys are very good. Also google "Agent Name + scam" and read what people are saying. Then find out their query requirements and query. Get rejected. Often. Just persevere. Eventually you might be accepted. If that is the case, move on to step 3

    3/ You and your agent will probably do some more editing and then your agent will help you query publishers. Again, research publishers before querying and make sure you follow their query guidelines. Again, get rejected a lot.

    4/ If you're one of the lucky few, you will be accepted. A legitimate publisher will NOT ask you for any money. In fact, they will pay YOU an advance and if your book sells well, you'll get royalties after that. If your book doesn't sell well you keep your advance and the publisher is the one who will be at a loss. That's why publishers are so hard to get. They take a big financial risk when they take you on. It also means they are much more motivated to sell your book.

    The publisher will provide: editing, cover artist, formatting, printing, marketing, copyright registration if you're in the US, ISBN and distribution at a cost of ZERO to you.

    The alternative is self-publishing, but I don't recommend it unless you're a talented businessman. Be aware there are free options out there ( or Amazon Kindle for example) and certainly plenty which don't cost thousands. That alternative means you are alone. You do all the work. All the marketing, all the editing, the cover art (unless you buy extra options). They just print it for you. Be wary of vanity presses posing as Print On Demand and self-publishers (again google Name + scam and ask the guys at Absolute Write.). Be aware that self-publishing also means you will probably not sell a lot of books if any. It's a great option if you just want a few copies for friends and family or a small local project (ie a History of your local parish or a book about your family's ancestors.) Be aware that self-publishing does not count as publishing credits and you would not be able to join any professional writers guild as well as being constantly reminded of the fact that your work was not selected by professionals. You will also have more trouble finding reviewers for your book as many bloggers, websites and most magazines and newspapers have a no self-published books review policy.

  • S.K.
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    First, you polish your manuscript until there's no way it can be improved. None whatsoever. A good third draft is probably unpolished.

    Then you research who's publishing books like it. Go to a few bookstores, not in the same chain, and figure out where your book would be shelved if it were available right now. Note the titles, authors, and publishers of the books that are there. (A camera can help--be subtle, and don't use the flash.)

    Back home, research. Find submission guidelines for those publishers. If there are none, that means they deal only with literary agents. Identify the agents who sold the books you saw by searching either the title in quotes plus the word agent, or the author's name and the word agent.

    Find the agents' submission guidelines. More homework: research each agent and publisher to find the one which seems the best fit for you and your work. Don't be afraid to aim high. The worst they can say is nothing--in play of rejection, no reply is common if they're not interested.

    Write a one-page query letter. Send it to the agents or publishers you'd most like to deal with. If none asks to see the manuscript, rewrite the query letter before sending out the next batch.

    Once an agent or publisher asks for your manuscript, you do not communicate with them until they've had a chance to read it. Most of the idealized turn-around times are in the submission guidelines. Don't contact them until at least twice that amount of time has passed without you hearing from them.

    Agents and publishers may want to meet you if you're going to be in NYC, but it's perfectly normal not to meet your agent face to face. You talk on the phone, or email, to conduct all your business.

    Your agent can explain the rights in the contract. If you deal directly with a publisher, you want a lawyer with experience in literary contracts to advise you before signing. But that's way down the road, presumably.

    Once a manuscript is accepted by a commercial publisher, your are assigned an editor who rips you a new one with changes, corrections, and other issues which must be addressed, often on very short notice. You will fill out an information sheet regarding your book for use by the cover artist. For print, the wait after your edits are complete and approved is 12 to 18 months until the book is in stores. For ebooks, it's more often a month or two.

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