Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller; librarian; and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.
So you’ve finished with the writing and now you need to know how to get your book published, but you don’t know where to start?
This article is aimed at you.
If you want your book to appear in print and be widely marketed then you will likely need to find a book publisher (the only other alternative is to self-publish and do all the marketing yourself).
To get published, you will need to know how to present yourself and your book in a professional way. There is a lot of competition out there and the better your approach, the better your chances.
Below are ten tips that you’d be seriously advised to consider before you do anything.
1. Before you send your book anywhere, make sure that it’s as good as you can get it.
Don’t rely on friends and relatives for feedback. Use a local writer’s group, published writers, or others with experience of the book trade.
If your book is a work of fiction, read my advice for novelists. Writers who get their book published are often strong-willed people, but usually they are are also prepared to listen to specific criticisms and rewrite some, or all of their book, if necessary.
Book publishers are usually busy people and they will often reject writers without providing detailed detailed feedback, so don’t rely on help from them. Value good quality feedback that you get from experienced and/or writers with books published.
2. Make sure that your book meets the publisher’s requirements before you send it anywhere.
Research book publishers and litererary agents thoroughly to find the ones that are appropriate. Some publishers only publish certain genres or types of book.
There are also conventions for certain genres, such as the length of a book. A general novel from a first time author should normally be at least 80,000 words long, for instance.
Find books that are of a similar type to your own and see who publishes them. Don’t waste time and money sending your work to book publishers who will automatically reject your book because it's not of a type or genre that they publish.
Honorary degrees and lifetime achievement awards are very encouraging. I know that it might sound strange that a writer who has published many books still needs encouragement, but this is true.
— Joyce Carol Oates
3. Get a literary agent if you can.
A literary agent will take a cut of the money from any book deal that’s made, but they are usually worth it if you are serious about getting your book published.
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They have the personal contacts in book publishing, some legal knowledge of contracts and rights issues, and can also help you to promote your book.
In short, a good literary agent will be effective negotiators on your behalf, as well as source of help and advice.
Good agents can be almost as difficult to secure as publishers, however, so present your work and yourself as professionally as possible if and when you contact them.
How to get a literary agent
4. It’s a tough marketplace out there.
Book sales are generally in decline, due to competition from laptops, mp3 players, cell phones, and other gadgets that modern people use to occupy their time.
On top of that, book publishers are fearful that as book trade becomes increasingly digitalized, it will suffer the same fate as the music and movie industry, where pirated copies of media have caused a drastic fall in profits.
As well as this meaning a downward pressure on the size of deals offered to authors, it is also more challenging than ever for a first time author to get a book published.
I started writing as a child. But I didn't think of myself actually writing until I was in college. And I had gone to Africa as a sophomore or something - no, maybe junior - and wrote a book of poems. And that was my beginning. I published that book.
— Alice Walker
5. Try to see it from the publisher’s point of view.
Although most people involved in the industry will have an interest in books and reading, they are still a business, however, and need to make money in order to survive.
They are not there to help you out, or boost your ego. Read through any requirements that they have carefully before you send them your book and be prepared for them to hold onto it for a long time (months!) before you hear back from them.
If you want to get a book published be prepared to put in consistent effort over many months and spend time waiting - you can write something else in the meantime, of course!
6. Present yourself and your book in a professional manner.
You don’t necessarily need to dress up in a suit in order to get your book published, but you should treat your dealings with book book publishers and literary agents as if you were going for a job.
The way that you prepare and present your work and yourself is important. If you want to be a professional author, you must learn to behave like one.
Your overall attitude will influence your chances of getting your book published.
7. Build up a resume of your work and achievements.
You can include things like short stories that you’ve had published, poetry readings that you’ve done, or other literary projects that you’ve been involved with.
These will all help to present a positive picture of you as a writer and increase the chances of you getting your book published.
A short biography of yourself is also good to include. Put in anything that is writing related and any also any interesting facts that a book publisher might use to promote you and/or your book to the media, should you get your book published.
Miss out biographical details that aren’t directly relevant to your book or writing career.
There were about ten years of trying, failing, trying again, suffering rejection, etc. My first published book, 'Story of a Girl', was the fourth book I wrote.
— Sara Zarr
8. Show a willingness to promote your book.
Book publishers will promote your book, but if you can also show that you can promote your book yourself, you will have a greater chance of getting your book published.
This might include talking to readers’ groups, being interviewed by the media such as local radio, or promoting yourself via the internet.
Without promotion your book is unlikely to succeed, especially if you are relatively unknown and the book publishers know this.
Also, show that you have plenty of ideas for future work.
9. Be prepared to do more work on your book, even if you are accepted.
There are a number of stages at which you might be asked to rewrite some or all of your work in order to get your book published.
Your litereray agent may well suggest changes that you should make, before they promote your work to book publishers.
The book publishers will almost certainly want some changes to be made, even if they are relatively minor, as they will go through your book with a fine toothcomb looking for errors and anomalies, as well as make requirements relating to structural or literary matters.
I wrote for years before I was ever published, and I don't think I could ever stop. That said, I was also a veterinarian before I sold my first book, and I still volunteer my time to help with animal welfare causes. So that is a career I would be happy to return to - while still secretly writing strange stories back in my doctor's office.
— James Rollins
10. There is one alternative to the above that you might want to consider?
What about self-publishing? This used to be seen as an inferior choice in the past, but now that you can promote your book over the internet, it’s become increasingly popular and even established authors, unhappy with the constraints of their publishers, are using it to get a book published.
You don’t even need to spend a lot of money on print runs anymore if you get your book published in a digital format?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2014 Paul Goodman
Jana Hays Taylor from Mesa, Arizona on June 02, 2015:
Thank you. Excellent information. Looking forward to more content like this.
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on May 03, 2015:
Great tips Paul on how to get your book published. Literary is misspelled under #9 , though. Voted up for useful! I'm planning to go the traditional route, since I have a couple of agents waiting for revisions on my revise and resubmits on a ms of mine. I hope to send it back out to them by mid-September.
Kelsey Elise Farrell from Orange County, CA on April 28, 2015:
Great hub! I totally agree with #9, it's something you don't realize, but most publishers want YOU to be the one marketing your book. I think it's worth mentioning though that most publishers won't even take a look at your work unless it is sent through an agency of some sort, so really an agent should be the first person you try and get your book to. A good agent won't cost you anything (actually they shouldn't charge you a dime, they should only take a percentage of the books that you've sold), and will do the research about where to send your manuscript for you. They also know how to negotiate sales, get you a better print deal, and know all of the licensing for national and worldwide print.
Crystal Davidson from Hamilton, Ontario on January 05, 2015:
I am working on my first book. This was very helpful. Thank You!
Zazo from Worldwide on November 06, 2014:
RAJESH CHANDRA PANDEY from India on October 31, 2014:
I have every desire to be a book writer. I have been writing on-line for 5 years now. Your article provides confidence that I can be published in print if I work hard. Thanks a lot. Congrats for HOTD.
PaigSr from State of Confusion on October 30, 2014:
Nicely laid out. Now if I could only do the same with what I have been working on. Thanks for the ideas to help me get moving on them.
Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on October 29, 2014:
You did a great job with this hub. I loved the use of quotes from well-known authors to illustrate your points. Congrats on HOTD. You really deserved it.
Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on October 29, 2014:
Very informative. Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on HOTD!
Suzie from Carson City on October 29, 2014:
Paul.....Thanks so much for this well-written, perfectly organized hub. This is one I'll be saving for reference. Great advice. Congrats on HOTD.. UP++
John Sarkis from Winter Haven, FL on October 29, 2014:
Great article - very informative!
Marlene Bertrand from USA on October 29, 2014:
You've provided us with a very valuable guide on how to get published. A lot of people overlook tip #6. They don't realize that they need to be as presentable as their book if they want to be taken seriously. Congratulations of receiving your much deserved Hub of the Day award.
Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on October 29, 2014:
Excellent article on how to get published. Your advice and suggestions are good ones accompanied by great videos also. I like this because you are very suscinct and to the point but at the same time very encouraging. Congratulations on HOTD! You are so deserving of this!
Jasmine Pena from California, USA on October 29, 2014:
Really useful information:) This article will really help me since I am making it my goal to publish my own stories in the near future.
mySuccess8 on October 29, 2014:
Well-written and great tips! Congrats on Hub of the Day!
Colin323 on October 29, 2014:
Publishers need a lot of convincing these days to take a chance on a new writer, so there is plenty of excellent advice here.
Andrew Spacey from Sheffield, UK on October 29, 2014:
Some useful tips for those who are thinking or daring of having their book published. Thank you.
Whether fiction or non-fiction the message is the same - persevere, be professional and seek help and advice from those who have experience and expertise.
Satyarth Prakash from India on October 29, 2014:
Some suggestions are really helpful. I will definitely try to incorporate these.
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on October 29, 2014:
Congratulations for HOTD!
A very useful and informative hub, for writers who want to publish their work. Publishing a book is the ultimate wish for every writer, and that includes me.
Thanks for sharing this helpful hub!
Trudy Cooper from Hampshire, UK on October 29, 2014:
Thanks for this very useful hub.
Sheila Craan from Florida on October 29, 2014:
Hello @SuperBrains! Fortunately, I was able to have my children's story book regarding a talking lizard named Mister Ses published by a traditional publisher, Tate Publishing, within months of joining HubPages. I am grateful for this! I actually don't have a separate literary agent, because Tate does the major work of marketing my kid’s book and also created all illustrations.
Leptirela from I don't know half the time on October 17, 2014:
Thank you for sharing.
I only read this because I am into your hubs
though I'm not ready to publish yet this is very useful and
helpful and I think I will be coming back to this again .
Thumbs up of course
Yvonne L B from Covington, LA on October 15, 2014:
Thanks for the tips.
K. Michelle on October 14, 2014:
Extremely useful information. Thanks
Audrey Howitt from California on October 14, 2014:
Very useful information! Thank you!