If you consider yourself to be a writer, then there’s a good chance that you want to know how to become a published author one day. In the current writing industry, there are three general ways that you can be published.
- Traditional publishing.
You’d be published by one of the large publishing houses in the world today, like the ones in London, Hong Kong, or New York City. In exchange for allowing the publisher to have distribution and publication rights, you’d be able to see your book on shelves all over the world.
- Novelty publishing.
If you can’t get your work picked up by a major publishing house, there are smaller publishers, including boutique publishers, that may be interested in your work. This type of publication still gives you distribution, but may require you to participate in marketing, editing, and design before the book hits shelves.
This type of publishing gives you the most control. You can publish your work as an e-book through a distribution format like KDP by Amazon or you can approach print-on-demand publishers or others that allow you to pay for your printing and distribution.
You’ll want to take a look at a complete guide to self-publishing if that is the course you wish to pursue. Below are the steps that you’ll want to follow to take advantage of what traditional or novelty publishing can provide to writers.
#1. Write a complete manuscript.
Your work needs to be completely polished so it can be properly presented to a publisher. This may mean hiring a professional editor to go through your manuscript. Some writers may prefer to approach a literary agent before approaching a publisher as well – the same rule applies. If you’re work isn’t finished, then finish it before going to the next step.
#2. Send a query letter based on instructions provided.
Every publisher has a certain process they want prospective authors to follow. You’ll need to submit your manuscript with a certain formatting. You’ll also need to complete a query letter that talks about your book, yourself, and what you can do to help make your work a success. Non-fiction writers may need to submit a complete business plan for their book as part of the query process.
It takes time for a publisher to review your work. This is especially true for traditional publishing houses that receive thousands of unsolicited manuscripts on a monthly basis. Except to be waiting 3-6 months at minimum for word about your work. Some publishers will offer you an expected turn-around time for a decision on your manuscript. If you do not hear back within that period of time, then it is acceptable to send a follow-up message to request an update.
#4. Allow the publisher to offer new ideas.
This is the mistake that many would-be first-time authors make and it can ruin a career. The publisher knows what their target markets happen to be. If your book is accepted, but is contingent on you as the author making some recommended changes, then make the decision to take their advice. Choosing to keep your work “as-is” will probably initiate a rejection.
#5. Sign your agreements.
If your work has been accepted, then you will likely be asked to sign a publishing contract. Review all of the agreements in detail before accepting them. Have a lawyer review them if you can afford this cost. This is your livelihood that is at-stake. Make sure that you’re receiving fair compensation. Keep in mind that most publishers offer an advance based on the expected royalties of a book. Once the advance is paid, you won’t earn more until your sales levels make up for the amount already paid.
#6. Keep writing.
If your work was rejected, take whatever feedback you receive to heart. Then keep writing. If your work is accepted, you still need to keep writing. Most writers will find some publishing forum will to take a chance on their work if they keep at it for long enough. Some of today’s most famous writers, including JK Rowling and Stephen King, were rejected hundreds of times before someone finally decided to take a chance.
Knowing how to become a published author is basically about following instructions. Choose your preferred publisher, submit your work based on their preferences, and be prepared to follow any instructions or feedback offered about your work. When you can do that, you’ll one day find the right publisher for your work and that feeling of success is one that every writer deserves to experience at least once.