Getting Your Book out of Your Head and onto the Bookshelves
Step One: Write
It sounds very simple but the first step in getting a book published is to start writing it. Just about everyone who I meet that knows I have published a book tell me some variation of the story about their book; the one that hasn’t been written yet. Their questions include is it hard? Yes, but it’s much harder if you don’t start. Or, how did you find a publisher or do you have an agent? Those are the wrong questions.
It is hard to write a book but the only way to make it any easier is to start writing. You can start with an outline, you can start with identifying your themes or main characters, or you can start by writing a short story instead of a book. If you want to write a book then pick up your pen or turn on your computer and get started. Once you get started there a billion suggestions about to make it a good, even great book, online or from successful authors. But you have to start. Forget about getting a publisher or an agent or what you will say to people at your book launch and just write.
Step Two: Share
Once you have written the first chunk of your book then you have to share what you’ve written with people that will give you feedback. Your friends and family are the best choice for your first round. They love you, I hope, and like you as well so they are likely going to be kind in their critique of your initial work of genius. Ask them to tell you not just whether or not they liked it, even though your ego really, really wants them to, but the parts they liked and even more importantly what they didn’t like about your creation.
If you have not learned this lesson already, now is the time to learn to graciously accept feedback. All of it. The only way your writing and your book will improve is if you can hear criticism and not take it personally. Remember that these are the people who like you. When you get out in the real world, publishers, agents, book reviewers and critics are mean and will not care one whit about your feelings. So share your writing early and often
Step Three: Talk to the Pros
After you have completed what you think is a decent draft of your book you will need some professional advice. You need to find someone who has published a book to talk to. Ask them what they did and thank them. Ask them to have a look at your book and make suggestions. Find a (cheap) editor who will have a look at your book and offer their guidance. The reason that you want a cheap editor at this point is that your work is probably not worth a full editing treatment yet. It may be someday but not yet.
You can usually find local published authors on a general Google search but you can also look up local author organizations. Or check out the national groups and associations of authors and writers. If you are writing in a particular genre like mystery for example there are tons of mystery and crime contacts online. Writing magazines also have listing at the back of their mags of fairly cheap editing services that you can try out.
Step Four Decide on Your Route
If you want to go the traditional publishing route, good luck. It really is like trying to find a way to squeeze through the eye of a needle. All of you and your book too! To get a major publisher to take on your book you have to be famous already or have an agent. To get an agent you have to get thorough their maze of assistants and gatekeepers just to get them to have a look at a sample of your work. If you can’t get an agent then it’s very difficult to get a traditional publishing contract. You can try, but prepare to spend at least a year and a whole lot of rejection trying.
There are however many other options today courtesy of self-publishing and e-books. E-books are an option because for about $100.00 you can get your manuscript formatted to fit all the major e-book types and also get it up on sale on Amazon and all other major e-book retailers. Self-publishing is also effective and fairly inexpensive, especially POD (Print on Demand) models that only print books when they are published. For less than $1,000.00 you can get your name up in lights. Well not really but you can have a professionally produced book and e-book that is ready for the bookshelves.