If you don’t sit down (or in my case stand) and write your book, it will never get published. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is finish your first draft. Stop editing, don’t look back. Just focus; look forward towards the end of your story and WRITE.
Your first complete draft will be awful, that’s a promise. You will have character names that are changing mid chapter, lots of repetition and not enough detail where it should be, but you will have a complete manuscript that you can then spend time editing and improving. You will also be a whole lot closer to seeing your book on a bookshelf than when you were lying in bed dreaming about it!
I have spent years researching how to get my books published and this is what I learnt:
- Make sure you have completed your manuscript to the best of your ability. Read, edit, read, edit, read and edit some more.
- Find someone you trust to read and critique your work.
- Edit your draft once again.
- Find a beta reader to read through your work.
- Edit once more based on any feedback you are given (are you seeing a common theme here?!)
- Find yourself an agent – this is not as simple as it sounds. You will need to spend time researching which agent out of the thousands out there are looking to represent your type of work.
Look at their website and submission details properly and only submit what they have asked for and in the format they have asked for. (Not sticking to guidelines, can result in being thrown off the ‘slush pile’ before your work has been read).
- Keep submitting – you will need to if you are like the majority of authors that have been rejected by the first batch of agents they submitted to. Remember even JK Rowling was rejected multiple times!
- When you get an agent, be prepared to work even harder than you did before. They will need to submit your manuscript to publishing houses when it is at its best and will ask you to edit it AGAIN.
- If your book is purchased by a publisher, be prepared to edit AGAIN and probably once more after that. Be prepared to take onboard constructive criticism. Writing your first draft is a lonely process, but publishing a book requires team work.
Publishing a book usually takes up to two years. You can understand why when you realise that reading a manuscript of approximately 60,000 – 80,000 words can take a while. Sometimes agents and publishers have to read through a manuscript twice to make the appropriate edits and suggestions. This is before they send it back to its author to go away and do the suggested work on it.
The majority of authors that I know didn’t get their first book published. In fact it was either on their fourth or fifth full novel that they found success. Writing a good novel is a huge learning curve.
It is a long bumpy road and requires a lot of work, but if you keep going, you will achieve your dream!
Determination, commitment and patience are the key to becoming a published author.