You have a great book idea or even a completed manuscript and you want to get your book published.
Only issue is you have more questions than answers.
Which type of publishing should you pursue? How will you generate book sales? Will anyone even read it?
These are legitimate questions because no one wants to pour their heart and soul into something only for it to fall flat–no sales, no readers, nothing.
That’s why we’ve compiled what we’ve learned from decades of experience about getting a book published into one handy guide.
You’re about to get all your questions answered–by the end of this article, you’ll have a much clearer idea of your next steps and how to ensure your book generates buzz.
How to Become a Published Author: The 9 Main Steps to Success
1. Identify Your Target Readers
Who’s going to read your book?
This is the first question you must ask. And you need to be able to answer it confidently.
Your ideal client is likely in a specific niche or circumstance. It’s tempting to try to write something with mass appeal because that’s what traditional publishers usually look for but don’t let that deter you.
You will succeed and make money if you create a great book for a specific audience.
The first step we recommend for determining your target audience is determining its genre:
Nonfiction Book Examples
- Autobiographies and memoirs
- Self-help and personal development
- Health and Fitness
- Business and Finance
- Education and teaching
- Religion and spirituality
- What apprehensions, anxieties, and concerns does your audience have?
- What are their goals and aspirations?
- How do you want to help your audience?
- What is the biggest problem that you can address for your audience?
Fiction Book Examples
- Mystery and thriller
- Science fiction
- Children’s Fiction
- What kind of individual would be drawn to your book?
- Is my niche already oversaturated with comparable plotlines?
- Does the storyline fit my chosen genre, or do the concepts belong somewhere else?
- For instance, do you wish to compose a fantasy epic but only have 40,000 words to spare?
2. Draft and Polish Your Book
New authors typically make their first error here. They consider their manuscript finished after just one or two revisions. Then they race to start sending it to agencies.
Sadly, publishers and agencies are very strict about their requirements.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of submissions are flung at agents. You don’t want them to read your book and have second thoughts about your writing skills.
That’s why polishing your manuscript multiple times is so important.
Don’t let the fact that you hurried the writing process cause people to have a bad impression of you.
Be sure to carefully revise your story to prevent this. Let as many people as you can read your draft, ideally, those who are eager to give their honest feedback should read your manuscript.
Continue revising it until you believe it to be almost perfect. Once it is perfect, tweak it some more.
3. Do Extensive Research on Who to Contact
Given how time-consuming it is to locate an agent, you might prefer to publish your book without one.
If you wish to publish your book with one of the “Big Five” publishers Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Macmillan), though, you must have an agent.
Because there isn’t enough time for them to read every book that is submitted to them.
Without an agent representing you, they won’t even bother reading your book.
But you don’t have to pursue a traditional publishing contract with one of the Big Five publishers to make money.
Many authors have sold tens of thousands of copies as a self or hybrid published author.
How to Find a Literary Agent
Agents will encourage you to find a publisher because they don’t get paid unless your book sells.
So, you should think twice before calling every agent you come across. That will definitely prevent you from finding the best representation.
Use a spreadsheet to keep track of possible agents when doing your research. Look for:
- History of representing similar genres. That indicates they have a track record of accomplishment in your field.
- Reputation. Although they could give you more attention, less experienced new agents might not have the same level of expertise.
Free resources for finding agents:
List of Book Publishers for First-Time Authors
Not pursuing the Big 5? If you wish to work with smaller publishing houses, you don’t need an agent:
- Blueberry Lane Books
- Jan-Carol Publishing
- C&R Press
- 39 West Press
- Chronicle Books
- Skyhorse Publishing
- Beacon Press
4. Prepare and Submit Your Pitch
Once you have a list of potential agents, you must persuade them to accept you as a client. Sending a proposal or query letter is one way to achieve this.
An agent first learns about you through your query letter. Spending hours on your book only to skim through the letters would be a waste of time.
It doesn’t matter how excellent your book is if your query letter doesn’t pique the agent’s interest. This pitch is one of the most crucial things you’ll ever write.
Here are some suggestions to bear in mind:
- Adhere to the submission guidelines. You give the agents a cause to screen you out if you leave things out or add too much.
- Put your submissions in order. To keep track of your pitches, use a spreadsheet. Otherwise, they will start to blend together.
- In case you haven’t heard back based on the timelines, don’t forget to follow up. Remember that if you don’t hear back, it can imply that you’ve been denied.
- Expect to get rejected and ghosted. Before you hear anything, it might happen dozens or even hundreds of times. Do not be discouraged by it.
What Makes an Effective Query Letter?
- A good query letter begins with a hook. You just have a few lines to grab the reader’s interest and persuade them to continue reading.
- Word count, name, and genre. Give the agent a chance to swiftly sift through this data to look for any obvious red flags.
- Comparison titles that are under three years old. This demonstrates the relevance and comprehension of works that are comparable to yours.
- Clarity. Agents won’t bother reading a confusing plot.
- Why did you look for this agent? Nobody wants to read material that has been obviously copied and pasted. Indicate your intentions and motivations for reaching out.
- Social media stats. Having a sizable following on social media or a sizable email list will make you stand out. Authors with a fan base are chosen by publishers.
Agents will want further writing from you when they express interest, such as your full manuscript or the first few chapters.
Be patient and comply with their requests.
5. Evaluate Potential Agents
If an agent is smitten with your book and wants to represent you, what should you do?
Whatever you do, resist the urge to accept the offer right away. Make sure it’s a good fit first.
You now have the chance to speak with them in person. Ask them questions without hesitation. You can ask about their background, how they collaborate with clients, and whether they anticipate making any revisions to your work.
Not having an agent does not prevent you from publishing a book. You can be choosy because of that. You don’t want to deal with an agent who doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about the message of your book.
6. Wait for Your Agent to Find a Publisher
The simplest and most difficult aspect of this process is waiting.
Give your agency room to present your book to publishers, assuming you were successful in finding one.
This procedure could take a while.
You could be fortunate and be among the select few who hear back within a few days. But be prepared for this process to take weeks, maybe years.
Fortunately, you don’t have to sit around doing nothing.
Add any revisions your agent suggested to further polish your work.
You can keep contacting other prospective agents with query letters. Finding one agent doesn’t exclude you from looking for more. Agents anticipate that you have more than one.
7. Go over any contract that is given to you in detail.
Once your agent locates a publisher willing to proceed, it’s time to negotiate the agreements.
Many aspiring authors would blindly accept everything that is presented to them, occasionally out of excitement but mostly out of fear of missing out on a contract.
But you’re not like that. You are not required to accept the first contract that is shown to you. To make sure you understand what you’re signing, you may haggle and inquire.
When considering a contract, bear the following in mind:
Most Traditional Publishers Will Own Your Content
To believe that you would be able to preserve all of the rights to your work is unrealistic. Publishing houses assume that you are already aware of this.
You acknowledge that the majority of ownership goes to the publisher if you choose them. Accordingly, you might not have any influence on the book’s price, cover, or royalties.
You can make a small concession in the ownership split but be prepared for them to grab a bigger share than you.
Check to See If the Advance Is Fair
The sum that the publisher gives you upfront is known as the advance. This advance may just be a few thousand dollars if you are a brand-new, unproven author.
You might be able to leverage this to receive a larger advance if you have an email list or a large social media following.
One of the few advantages of using a traditional publisher is this first bonus, so be sure it is a sum you are comfortable with.
Examine the Potential Royalty Amounts
Only until the book has sold enough copies to cover the advance do you start receiving royalties.
Don’t count on getting all of your royalties. Your royalties typically range between 15% and 30% of the book’s price.
Expect Further Content Editing and Revisions.
If you think securing a publisher would mean that your book is ready for sale, think again.
Their in-house editor most likely will have more modifications.
Make sure the adjustments are acceptable to you because you’ll have a chance to discuss them. If their edits transform the book into something unfamiliar, you can voice your objections.
Recognize That Publishing Houses Have Other Options
While defending your rights, you don’t want to come out as a diva. In the event that publishers decide you are too challenging to deal with, they are free to select other writers.
8. See Your Book Come to Life by Working With an Editor
Are you ready for more editing?
It is upsetting, especially considering the manuscript you submitted could already be the fourth, fifth, or twelfth draft.
But that’s one advantage of working with a publisher: several people will go through your book to make it the best it can be.
A book’s editing is what makes it what it is. Even after numerous readings, there can still be a misspelled word or a sentence that has to be condensed.
The graphic designer for the publisher will start assisting with book cover production around the same time.
9. Time to Promote Your Book
Now, take a look, your book is on display at your neighborhood bookshop.
But hold on, nobody is even looking at it again. Why isn’t your book flying off the shelves?
Unfortunately, a lot of aspiring authors are mistaken about who handles marketing.
Typically, traditional publishers won’t market your work on your behalf. Because of this, they favor authors who already have a following.
Free Methods to Market Your Book
- Social media, whether you like it or not, is a terrific tool for self-promotion. Utilize your preferred platform to connect with your audience and reach new people.
- Distribute free copies. It can sound contradictory, but spreading the word about yourself is crucial (particularly if you don’t already have a following). Find thought leaders and influencers who would like to read your book and would be eager to promote it.
- A book signing. Visit or give a lecture on books in local bookshops or schools. In the community, bookshops are delighted to support local independent writers.
- Do interviews. Find journalists, bloggers, and podcasters who cover the subject and who might be interested in speaking with you. Getting as many people to see your work as you can is sometimes a numbers game, so keep that in mind.
Getting a Book Published: What Are Your Options?
Every aspiring writer is free to choose their own path. Most writers will choose one of three options.
The majority of aspiring authors fantasize about taking this path.
When you publish a book traditionally, a publisher works with you to produce a physical copy that will look lovely in bookshops around the nation.
It goes without saying that this process is difficult and time-consuming, requiring a thorough, step-by-step procedure (as detailed above).
Traditional publishers do not promote your work on your behalf.
Therefore, if you already have a significant platform, a traditional publication might not be your best option. Despite performing the majority of the labor, you still have to split the earnings with an organization.
What Is the Price of Traditional Publishing?
Traditional publishing is technically free. The initial expense and risk of publishing your book are assumed by the publisher. They do, however, also receive a larger percentage of the income as a result.
Given that you are doing everything yourself, this is the choice that is the easiest to understand. You are also your own graphic designer and editor. Naturally, this implies that you are free from outside meddling and from having to share your gains with others.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Book Self Published?
The cost of self-publishing can range from $0 to $5,000. The usual ranges from $1,000 to $2,000. Depending on how much work you wish to outsource, there is a broad variety. You will have to pay for the services of an editor and a graphic designer yourself.
In hybrid publishing, the writing and marketing of the book are handled by a third party who handles all other parts of the publication. This can help you make quite a bit more money and gives you marketing professionals to sell your book.
At the conclusion of the post, we’ll go into further detail about this choice.
How Much Does Hybrid Publsihing Cost?
This is the most expensive option, running into the tens of thousands. You are paying someone else to do all the labor-intensive work, hence the expense.
How to Write Nothing and Still Have Your Book Published in Less Than Six Months
Perhaps the aforementioned steps seem to take too much time.
You need to write and edit your entire book as well as write and submit inquiries, promote yourself, and make revisions on top of edits.
The entire procedure can take years and tens of thousands of hours for just one book.
Fortunately, you have a better choice.
As was already indicated, if you don’t have time to wait, hybrid publishing is the best option.
The key advantages of hybrid publishing are listed below, but keep in mind that not all hybrid publishers operate and provide for their clients in the same way.
Publication Takes Months, Not Years
Hybrid publishing saves you this time as opposed to enduring a procedure that requires years and offers no assurances because:
- There is no need for you to wait for agents and publishers to choose you.
- Writing your book in a matter of months is made possible by hybrid publishers.
You Don’t Have to Prepare a Full Manuscript in Advance
It takes time to write your full book, therefore you should finish it before even thinking about applying to publishers.
With hybrid publishing, you may bypass this phase, saving you months or even years of work because they often offer ghostwriting services.
They Are in Charge of Marketing
Traditional publishers won’t do anything to aid in your book’s promotion. You receive much less assistance when you self-publish since you lack a support system from an institution.
Hybrid publishing houses can aid in book marketing. During your launch, their PR teams issue news releases, conduct paid commercials, and promote on social media platforms.
All of it is especially useful if you don’t have your own platform.
Ownership Rights Remain Yours
Up to 80% of the book’s rights are purchased by traditional publishers. They frequently retain this ownership indefinitely.
The majority of hybrid publishing houses behave more like contractors than owners. They aid with the creation, writing, and promotion of your book. You retain ownership of the material and royalties when that portion of the agreement is finished.
You Control Creative Decision-Making
Self-publishing is popular because it allows authors to exercise control. Traditional publishers are free to alter their works in ways that you might find objectionable. They have the power to alter the book’s content as well as the title and cover.
The flexibility of self-publishing is combined with the resources of a publishing house in hybrid publishing.
You provide the copywriter instructions for the book back blurb and advice to the graphic designer when it comes to the book cover.
You Keep More of Your Earnings
Compared to self-publishing or traditional publishing, hybrid publishing involves a larger initial investment. This makes it difficult to swallow at first
However, because you are not handing away ownership and royalties, you may end up saving money over time by doing this.
Any earnings are yours to retain.
What Is Your Best Option to Get a Book Published?
Each of the main three options for getting a book published have their pros and cons.
But, in our opinion, Hybrid publishing is the best option.
It gives you the power of a traditional publisher with the freedom and ownership of self-publishing.
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