After many painful days of writing, you’ve finally wrapped up the first draft of your manuscript. It’s a moment which should cause great pride. Not everyone can finish a book. Now you’re looking at the idea of getting it published. Here are the steps to publish a book you’ll need to take after you’ve finished that first draft.
Step #1: Edit your manuscript like crazy.
You might be a great writer, but even the best writers make mistakes as they write and don’t even realize it. There are three total edits that you’ll need to do before your book is ready for publication.
- The second draft of your book should review your plot for consistency and clarity.
- The third draft of your book should fix major errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It should also look at character and scene consistency.
- The fourth draft of your book should be a line-by-line edit that is read out loud to catch any further typos that linger.
Most publishers will not want to take a look at your book unless you’ve completed all of these edits. Finish them and you’re ready for the next step.
Step #2: Format your manuscript correctly.
There are industry standards for formatting that must be followed. Make sure you get your manuscript prepared based on these standards. If you have a specific publisher you wish to contact and they have additional formatting requirements, you’ll need to add them into your book before submitting it.
Step #3a: Search for the right publisher.
Unless you’re an established author or you’ve written an absolute masterpiece that everyone is going to love, there’s a good chance you won’t be published by one of the major publishing agencies. You can contact them to try if you wish, but your best option is to contact a small- to medium-sized publisher, a boutique publisher, or a specialty publisher to review your work.
There are hundreds of potential publishers all over the world who may be interested in the book. You’ll need to sort through that list to make sure the publishers you contact will work with your subject genre, are accepting new authors, and have open submission guidelines. Then print out a hard copy of manuscript, email the file that is formatted correctly, and add a query letter to the submission so you have the best chance of a review.
Step #3b: Search for the right literary agent.
Some publishers will not even look at a manuscript unless it is represented by a literary agent. The process of contacting an agent is very similar to that of contacting a publisher.
Step #4: Make changes as requested by the publisher.
This is the step that trips up many first-time authors. A publisher might like the plot and overall quality of a manuscript, but they may want to make changes to it based on what they perceive the market to be. If you refuse to make those changes, there is a good chance that the publisher will reject the work – even though they’re interested in it.
In the world of publishing, there must be a little give and take. If all you want to do is take money and aren’t willing to give anything beyond the manuscript in return, most publishers are going to be very hesitant to work with you.
Step #5: Formulate a clear marketing plan.
For first-time authors, a publisher often relies on what an author has already established for themselves in terms of marketing. If you don’t have a blog, start one. If you’re not on social media, get active. You have a better shot at getting published when you can show a publisher evidence that you have an established fan base that wants to read what you’ve written.
Now this doesn’t mean a publisher won’t help market your book. They will. It’s just going to be up to you to make sure you make it to book signings, commit to lectures and speaking and engagements, and all of the other work that goes into selling a book. Don’t tell a publisher (or an agent) what you’re willing to do.
Tell them what you will do.
These 5+ steps to publish a book may seem simple, but it is a complex and time-consuming process. It may take 60-120 days for a publisher to review your manuscript. Many literary agents take 60-90 days to complete a review. There may be several rejections along the way. If you stay persistent and keep writing, then that is your best shot at achieving your goal.