I write the following from what I have learned thus far on this subject. I would appreciate input from those of you that have made this trip successfully.
It cannot be overemphasized enough to write well. I have read many books written by people who were self-published. They wrote their story that they wanted to tell. Not being able to make their fortune from their manuscript, they self-published. They spent the next several months trying to sell enough of their books to re-coop their investment. Not everyone was meant to be a writer or published. If they had read their work more carefully they would have discovered that it was not written well. This leads me to my next thought.
Write for your enjoyment.
The passion that most writers have is not to sell millions of books, just to write. It has been said that if you want to get to know the author, read their book. Take this one-step further. If you want to get to know yourself, who you are…, write a book. When you are reading your story, if you are listening, you will find yourself in your characters. Insight as to who you actually are will come out in their actions and feelings.
If your characters do not have feelings, you need to go back and try again. Sell the story through their actions or feelings.
Which reminds me, do not try to do this for a living, until you are famous. Your sanity might depend upon you being in this world with a day job. We are social creatures, being around people and not in your world of your story all of the time is important. Of this… I speak from experience…
Start out with a bang!
The first few pages sell your book, especially for an unknown. The prologue is a good place to entice the reader to want to know more, than you can build the story after the prologue. Once you become a JK Rowling, than you can let your name (or brand) sell your product.
Be well read
Most successful writers read a lot. While I have read some “flash in the pan” books that were not well written, nor were the authors “well read,” that actually made it. Statistics show that more often than not, books that get published, are from people who were well read.
Have a story that is unique and interesting
Your story should be unique. If it is a rehash of a common situation, there is a good chance it will sit on the circular file cabinet of some publisher, until the janitor makes his or her rounds.
You must have thick skin to be in this vocation. Your own family may not like what you have written. Do not expect everyone to love it as much as you do. This is your baby, your passion not theirs. As soon as you send it off to someone, start working on something else. One of the publishers that I have been talking with might take a year before they get back to you simply telling you, no thanks!
A Good Agent
First off, agents are about as hard to sell as are publishers themselves. Many folks take up writing as a get rich scheme instead of for the pure passion of writing or telling a story. Agents get a commission for what they do. Never pay someone up front…If the agent is a true agent worth their salt, they will know from your synopsis if this is something that they can sell.
Do lots of research on your agent before signing.
Good agents are available. Locating them through a writers league might be a good idea as the others in the league might have an experience to share.
Finish your work before you think about getting it published
I have spoken with many who get some idea for a book and immediately approach an agent or publisher. “You have nothing to sell, until there is a manuscript of 120,000 words or so in your hands.”
When writing your manuscript do not get hung up on the word count! After the editing process, your 135,000 words might be around 95,000. Somewhere between 100,000 and 120,000 seems to be optimal.
Check your work well before you send it off…
As alluded to in the last point, editing your work is paramount. When you decide to send it off, it should be as good as you could possibly make it. I like to read it aloud although one trick that I found is to have something like “Nuance’s Naturally Speaking” full edition; read it back to me, one paragraph at a time. Your mind will skip over clumsy sentences or bad grammar. The program only reads what it sees so the “you instead of the your” will pop out at you!
Try to get something published in a magazine prior to getting your book published.
This is a great idea for first time writers. Write a short story or several, 5000 words or so and submit it to magazines. If they publish it, they might pay around $500 for the story (one time) but you then can write on your cover sheet…published in…. That is a great way for your manuscript to get more of a look than 3 seconds, of some agent or publishers time.
“What magazine you ask?” What do you write? Sci-Fi… Pick a science fiction magazine and approach them with a story…
Submission guidelines are critical…
Everyone has some idea of what they expect to see when they open your manuscript. I have found double-spaced block type, cover sheet etc… They should have guidelines to follow…follow them not just a little bit, to the letter.
Have a well-written synopsis keeping it to two pages.
This is a problem for writers. You need to tell the complete story, with the ending in 500 words or so…2 pages… Look for guidelines online… Oh yes, it must be written well…
Purchase The Writer’s Market published by Writer’s Digest
Send a query letter even if they say they are currently not accepting. The worst thing that will happen is you wasted a stamp. (One page) Many publishers may say that they do not accept unsolicited manuscripts but truth be told, they all want best sellers. A query letter cost you .50 cents and it might perk their interests.
Sending your manuscript to agents and or publishers should not be with a lot of fanfare. Simply box it “if it fits its ships” or padded envelope and let the post office do it for you. No FED EX nothing like that…Media Mail in fact… Anything else gives the appearance of desperation. “They should be lucky that you have chosen them to publish…” Ok, maybe not but, you get the gist.
Now go back to writing and tell a story….
Below are a few links that I have found while digging.
As a favor to me, many of you read and like my posts, which I thank you from the very bottom of my heart. Follow me; share what you see. Thanks!