By: Lauren Capps
As an aspiring writer, I know how it feels to write my own dreams and thoughts down on paper, turn it into a story, and hopefully one day become a published author. That dream hasn’t been accomplished yet — and one day it will — but for now, I can only hope to help other aspiring writers like me by explaining my experiences in the publishing world. Hopefully, these tips can help you on your journey to becoming a published author.
If You Think You’re Done — You’re Not
When you finally type “The End,” it’s really not the end. The first step before you wrap up your book and submit it to a publisher is to edit. Then rewrite. Reread your work more than just a few times. Find grammar mistakes, structural problems, and word disagreements. By the time you are about exhausted from rereading and rewriting to where you feel like you know every line by heart, reread and rewrite again. If you are stuck, have a friend or family member go over a part that you are not sure about. It’s always a good thing to ask for help.
Today, most publishers require your book to be in tip top shape; the editors don’t have time to do your work for you. The more polished your book is, the more likely they will accept your work.
Look for Writing and Publishing Contests
If you are a first time author, most publishing companies and literary agents will bypass your manuscript just like a potential employer would as if you were applying for a job. The point is, you need experience. There are many contests out there that will reward winners with a prize of money and/or publication.
Remember: there are a lot of contestants besides you, so make sure you meet the guidelines (and, of course, have a great story to tell).
Find a Literary Agent to Represent You
This is one of the hard parts of submitting your work for publication, as I know from my experiences of multiple denials. A literary agent can help with acquiring contracts with editors and publishers, selling the rights to your work, help with legal actions, and other tasks. In return, they get a commission from the sales of your book. A crucial step is to find a literary agent that represents the genre you are writing in. After you find a few agents that you think are worthy, muster up a query letter that will entice them into wanting more.
A query letter is a short page explaining why you are contacting the agent, a short synopsis of your book, including the plot, and a brief bio of yourself and your skills. Some agents will require a couple pages of your manuscript, so prepare to add a few pages if they ask for it. Remember: always be polite and courteous, and don’t get discouraged if you are receiving denials.
Quick Tip: Check out our own guide, How to Write a Query Letter: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply, for more tips and tricks on how to write the perfect query letter!
The Next Steps: Literary Agent — Yes or No?
The next steps can be different depending on your acceptance from a literary agent. Now, this is where my personal experience ends — I haven’t been accepted, so I don’t know what goes on from there if one accepts you. I can imagine that they will start looking for publishers and editors for your work, among other things.
If you keep getting denials, don’t fret. Think of how your favorite authors got accepted; look them up, and see if they have said anything about their publishing experiences. Stay encouraged that you will one day finally get published, and keep trekking on by submitting more inquiries to agents.
One Last Tip: Keep Writing!
Lately, during my past two years in college, I admit that I didn’t write as much as I should have. Due to that part I feel a bit discouraged, but thinking of the future, and my life ahead of me, I know that I can achieve my dream one day. One day you will too, so don’t give up. Keep writing every day, because who knows? One of your books might just be the next best seller!