Monday, November 19, 2018

Advice for New Writers Looking to be Published

Question: What advice would you offer a new writer wanting to get their first novel published in today’s highly competitive publishing environment?

Brenda Chapman here.

The publishing world is almost the exact opposite from the creative, solitary world of a writer. Whereas an author must open themselves up to feelings and intuition, publishing demands a business-like, pragmatic approach. Contracts, agents, advances, royalties … every aspect can be intimidating and overwhelming for an author embarking on their search for a publisher.

I cannot speak to the world of self-publishing since I have no experience in this arena, but I still believe that having the distribution and marketing force of a publishing house not to mention the validation in the industry that comes from having a publisher trumps self-publication. Those self-published authors I’ve spoken with have said that they do not get reviewed by established publications and they have difficulty getting their books into stores or even getting on panels in some book conferences, such as Left Coast Crime. However, on the flip side, they do maintain control of their work and can make more profit from each sale. So, my first bit of advice is to do your research and consider all the pros and cons when deciding your path in the publishing world.

Next, I would say for those looking at finding a publisher for their first novel, write the best book that you can — take extreme care in editing and polishing your manuscript and pay particular attention to the first chapters, which serve as your gateway. Publishers normally decide whether to read an entire manuscript based on the first few pages. Another tip that I gleaned from an acquisitions editor was to have a hook in the storyline. This editor was looking for something marketable that would set the book apart; likely they were not the only one with this requirement.

Publishers are working to stay afloat in a tough environment, and as a perspective new author, you need to keep this reality in mind. Pitch your book as if you are selling it to readers. Study book covers of books similar to yours and look at the wording of the blurb. Use similar wording (geared to your book) in your submissions letter. You need to sell the storyline and sell yourself in the process. Publishers want to know your credentials, whether it be your expertise in the subject matter or your writing history. They’re looking for writers they can work well with, in what is for them, a business venture.

Once your book is accepted — and this could be after much rejection and rewriting — realize that your work is only beginning. You’ll need to roll up your sleeves and become an active member of the editing, publicity and marketing teams. The entire process, from the moment you cross the last ‘t’ in your manuscript becomes one of selling: selling your book to a publisher, selling your book to readers, selling yourself to media and book festivals. Be prepared for more rejection, whether it be from a store customer who says your book is not for them, reviewers who criticize your work or festivals that overlook you for their event.

Yet, not all is dire or difficult. You will find successes in many unexpected places — a solid review, a flattering email from a reader, an invitation to a book club, your book front and centre in a store window! Gradually, you’ll gain confidence, and one day, you’ll accept that you truly are a writer. You’ll have joined the select group of people who’ve actually completed a novel and had it published … no small feat.

My last bit of advice is to keep writing. Start another project as soon as you can and learn from the first. Don’t lose sight of the joy that comes with telling a story and creating a world that readers will want to visit and recommend to their friends :-)

Twitter: brendaAchapman

Facebook: BrendaChapmanAuthor 


Susan C Shea said...

Excellent advice throughout the post. Really, a solid game plan for anyone just starting out.

RJ Harlick said...

Some good solid advice, Brenda. Good post.

Cathy Ace said...

Useful advice - it will be interesting to see how this topic plays out through the week, as I am pretty sure there'll be some common denominators, and some marked differences.

7 Criminal Minds said...

Thanks everyone - yes, I'm very interested in reading other posts on this topic!

विकास नैनवाल 'अंजान' said...

Excellent advice for all who are starting out. Writing a novel is a difficult task but ensuring that it gets published and then making sure you are don't stop at one is all together a very different ball game. Loved the post.
- Vikas Nainwal

7 Criminal Minds said...

Thanks Vikas and all the best on your writing journey!