If you’re anything like me, you already have a picture of the publishing industry. Maybe it’s of Laura Ingalls Wilder marching up to a publisher’s desk with her manuscript. This is how I fancied my childhood dream, but the days of direct manuscript submissions are mostly behind us.
Publishers don’t have time to wade through the mountain of manuscripts for that perfect piece; instead, new protocols have taken over the market.
First, there is a difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing. Self-publishing means the author takes the initiative to publish and advertise their work independently. The author pays for the finished product upfront, and he needs you to purchase the book to recoup his investment. Traditional publishing means an author has a contract with a company, who publishes their book for them. The company takes the risk, but only after the product has been honed to a specific standard.
In order to polish their manuscript, the author must:
- Adhere to the genre standards and receive feedback. Edit as needed.
- Develop a query letter to send to an agent. Follow the agent’s guidelines. Catch the agent’s interest.
- Send the agent a book proposal. Outline the basics of your novel. Follow the agent’s guidelines.
- Sign with the dream agent.
- Present the manuscript to publishers through the agent.
- Snag a contract to publish your novel!
- Edit again.
These are general steps. Along the way, an author proves to prospective agents they are serious about the craft. This may mean starting a blog. One agent suggested at least 3 social media accounts where others can follow you. Engagement and followers matter. Authors can’t get published without your support. Agents and publishers look at an author’s platform. That basically is a fancy word for their audience.
I say this to tell you, the publishing journey is not an easy one. It is a full-time career. Most author invests their time, money, and dreams. You offer encouragement with a simple word, a like, a prayer…and we appreciate you. Follow your favorite authors on social media. Comment on their posts and encourage them to keep writing.