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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How do I get my book published?

 *Note: for you younger kids, the above picture is of a thing called a board
game. It represents the beginning of the game where you would physically roll
the dice and move your game piece around the game board.
I got an email from a reader who asked about how to get started down the road to being published. Before I knew it, I'd written quite a lengthy email in reply. This is NOT the magnum opus on the subject, but it might answer a few of your own questions. 

About getting published, the literary world is changing markedly with the advent of the ebook, so there are a number of options:

Traditional Print--The process works like this:

1) Write a good book (how's that for brilliant?)

2) Edit and revise until it is crisp, spotless, and most importantly, told in your stylish voice

3) Let someone you trust read it and make suggestions; then edit and revise all over again.

3b) Work obsessively on your opening chapter. Make it grab the reader by the throat. You MUST hook them in the first chapter or they may not read any more--ever.

4) Look for a reputable agent. You can find one by subscribing to Writer's Digest. Every issue, they list agents and what they are looking for. Or you can purchase a Writer's Market Guide which lists zillions of publishers and agents. Or you can look into works of published fiction in your genre and see what agency those authors used.

5) Call the agent, see what they want: proposal only, or with three chapters, whole manuscript, query letter, or whatever.

6) Google Book Proposal format, or whatever your agent asked for. Find out how to write a good one, and submit to agent. Allow 2-3 weeks for response. Hear nothing after a month, call. Rinse and repeat until you have an agent.

7) Your agent should then begin shopping your manuscript around to publishers who, if interested, will ask you for one of those things you submitted to your agent. Get your agent to help you craft the best proposal, etc. possible.

8) Then, pray a lot and hope for a contract.

eBooks--the process works like this:
1) Write a good book (Did I mention, brilliant?)

2) Edit and revise until it is crisp, spotless, and most importantly, told in your stylish voice

3) Let someone you trust read it and make suggestions; then edit and revise all over again.

3b) Work obsessively on your opening chapter. Make it grab the reader by the throat. You MUST hook them in the first chapter or they may not read any more--ever.

4) Hire a professional editor to help you edit and revise your manuscript. Only let a friend do it if they are professionals. Seriously, you don't want to upload a junky eBook.

5) Find a cover artist and pay for the coolest cover you can afford. The cover must look cool in both full size AND thumbnail. It's more important for ebooks to have a great cover because they are all FACE OUT!

6) Either find a professional or do-it-yourself format your book for Amazon Kindle. Check out their publishing program. It's the best thing going.

7) Price your eBook LOW .99 to $3.99, or even give it away for a few months. That price point is discretionary money for most readers. Like the iTunes model, the low price will sell lots of books and, if you're using Amazon's 70% royalty model, will still get you serious money. 

8) Once your eBook is online, promote, promote, promote. Visit eBook forums. KindleBoards, Smashwords, etc. Tell everyone about your book who will listen. People want to find the "next big deal author" and they will promote you if they like you.

Whew, so there you go! Hope that helps.

Never alone.   



Kaleb said...

Board games are better than most video games I've played.

What if you don't want an agent?

Seth Skogerboe said...

Thank yer' kindly fer' yer' post, Misser Batson! :) Also, about that board game thing: where do you plug it in? .... :D

The Director said...

Thanks, Sir Batson! When I've finished my novel and start thinking about publishing, I'll definitely be referencing this post! Thanks for the neat and handy guide :)

Anonymous said...

Those writer's market guides are an overflowing fountain of info. A great resource! Oddly enough, I just checked one out at the library today. I'd never heard of one before until a friend mentioned it to me. Another friend and I are writing a novel and are nowhere near the publishing stage but it always helps to get a feel for what I'll be doing when the time comes.

Do you have to have an agent?

Millard of Swiftstorm said...

Hey WTB,

Great post loved it. I'm not even looking to write a sellable book at this point but I love to learn. Teach you did ;) Thanks.


Jake said...

Aha! Spot on Sir Batson! This is the kind of info I needed...I'm currently at like stage two with one of my novels.

But like Kaleb said...what if ye don't want an agent? I've heard before that agents don't usually go for unpublished writers...or something like that. :)

Daisuki_Jesus said...

I wish more Christian fantasy authors like you would elaborate about getting published. Thanks for the info!I found 3(b) most enlightening. :)
Fantasy seems to still be in its infancy in the Christian market but I pray this will change eventually and more publishers will be willing to take risks in this genre I adore so much.

Greg said...

I must have googled this process like 4100000 times and gotten the same answer each time. However this is a great, simplified version. Question, Mr. Batson: Must an agent be paid just to represent you, or is it possible to work it out with just paying them from the profits or something?

WayneThomasBatson said...

Kaleb: Amen! I love Stratego. And if you don't want an agent, then prob eBooks are the way to go. Most publishers won't look at your work without an agent.

Seth: Too funny!

Director: No worries. I learned most of what I know from another author (JA Konrath) who was generous enough to pass along his hard-earned knowledge.

Anon:just make sure the guide you get is the newest one.

Millard: Yoda reference, you have made?

Jake: some agents may be in a position to exclude new authors, but most aren't.

Daisuki: glad it helped. But yeah, the hook really is that important. Think about being a publisher having to read 100s of manuscripts a day. If that first chapter doesn't grab you, there's no way you have time for any more.

Greg: glad you asked. NO reputable agent asks for money up front. They don't get paid until you get paid. NEVER go with an agent who wants $$$ ahead of time. Scoundrels out there. lol

Anonymous said...

This is very helpful Sir Batson! Thank you so much for posting this!! I always wanted to know how, and especially now because I am almost done with my first book!

Never Alone!!

Millard of Swiftstorm said...

Wayne, :P Star wars watched I have not ;) Referenced I did?


RH said...

Thanks! I love it! What is the drawback without an agent?

RH said...

I mean I know the publisher won't really look at your book but is there a chance it will go into a "slush" pile?

Greg said...

ok thanks I'm preparing to wade into that sea at the moment. interesting enough AMG has a submission system where an agent isn't needed. course that means 0% chance of being accepted but worth a try :/

mooney said...

Hi Wayne! Thanks for the info. Michael Hyatt from Thomas nelson recently put together a list of agents handling Christian work. Here's the link:

Brianna said...

Hail, Sir Batson!

This has nothing to do with the post on getting published, but I thought you might want to know that I did a small poll on my blog, asking everyone who their favorite Elf Lord was from Curse of the Spider King. I don't know; maybe you'd be interested, maybe not... I just thought I'd tell you just in case... (only 8 people voted in the poll).

Here's the link to the poll results:

Never Alone!

Ruth said...

I'm stuck on number one. :D