It’s on many a bucket list – writing a book – but how many of us actually sit down and put pen to paper (or should we say mouse to mat?). Quite a few, as it turns out! Whether you have lovingly crafted your story over the last decade or hit the keyboard hard for the last twelve months – it’s time to take it to the next level. But how do you begin the daunting process to get your novel published and on the shelves?
With persistence and belief according to Heather Boisseau, Publishing Manager and Editor at RedDoor. Heather told us ‘The game has changed, meaning agents and publishers are no longer the gate-keepers to the book industry.’ It turns out there are quite few ways to go about getting published – all you need is a bit of sound advice, and a thick skin. So get your armadillo armour on and keep reading for Heather’s top tips on how to get your novel published.
So let’s get started…
If it’s a passion project – that means for your eyes only (and maybe a few other lucky souls) – then roll up your sleeves and get cracking! There is a plethora of freelance publishing services available these days, with the likes of KDP, CreateSpace, Lulu, Matador, and many others, to guide you through to printed copy.
But if you dream of a traditional book deal, here are our 5 top tips to get the literary ball rolling.
Sharing is Caring
It’s scary allowing other people to read what you’ve written, but feedback from trusted friends and family is essential… and free! These early reviews will help you hone your work. Just think, if you’ve written a women’s commercial novel, your girlfriends are in fact your target market. Take criticism on board (with grace – it’s harder than you think) and develop a thick skin. No matter how your book gets published, at some point it’s going to be reviewed by someone (don’t you just love Amazon?). It might sound obvious but it’s also worth reading as much as you can in your chosen genre to get a feel for the market.
Who do I contact?
Your manuscript is written, edited and ready to go. But who do you send it to? The Writers’ and Artists’ Year Book is a publishing bible that is updated yearly and one you should definitely have on your shelf. It’s an invaluable directory of editors, publishers and contacts, and their lists. But here’s the deal – make sure you send it to the right publisher. Again it sounds obvious, but actually it’s a common mistake. So don’t, say, send a romance novel to a children’s publisher. It’s just a rejection waiting to happen. Get a name – from the WA Yearbook or from the publisher’s website, and contact them with a personalised note, tailored to them. If you want to contact an agent, the same applies – in short, do your homework!
How much should I send?
Most agents and editors require a detailed book synopsis plus the first three chapters of your book (and detailed contents list if it’s non-fiction). An elevator pitch (that is your book in a few sentences) is a really good way to grab their attention. Make yourself stand out. Tell them who would buy your book and why – make their life easy. After all, you are your best cheerleader. Also be prepared to wait, and be prepared for rejection… but don’t give up. J.K. Rowling was famously rejected twelve times…
The other way
As we mentioned before, these days a traditional deal isn’t the only way to get published. For example at RedDoor we know there’s a wealth of talent out there missing out on a book deal, simply because the industry has become so risk averse. Books are relatively expensive to produce, and with relatively few authors earning out their advance, publishers are more reliant than ever on the big players. But their loss is our gain: our hybrid model, where the author underwrites the first print run of their book, but it is made, distributed and marketed in the traditional way, gives those talented writers a chance to break out.
If in doubt, just ask!
Writing can often be a bit lonely, so reach out to those close to you for feedback and support. Join a local writer’s group as this will give you structure, advice, feedback and support. And don’t forget the Internet – there’s a plethora of support online, with freelance industry professionals out there to guide you on your way.
Heather Boisseau is Publishing Manager and Editor at RedDoor and has worked in publishing for 17 years. She has been managing the RedDoor list for the last 4 years and is actively commissioning both fiction and non-fiction titles.