You’ve written a great book. You’re ready to get it published. The only problem is that no one seems to love your book like you do. The rejection letters are beginning to mount. You begin to feel like maybe you’ve done something wrong. Doubt begins to creep in.
If you want to know how to get a book published for the first time, the first rule you must understand is that there are no set rules that can be followed. Every first-time author takes a different path to being published for the first time.
So what can you do if there are no “set” rules? Here are some ideas that can help to make it easier to find the light at the end of your publishing tunnel.
#1. Make sure you’ve written a great book.
Every writer thinks that their book is fantastic. It’s their baby. Sometimes writers have spent years producing a manuscript. The fact of the matter is that it takes talent AND practice to create a book that publishers will want to put out on the market. If you haven’t thoroughly edited your book and then read it out loud as a final edit, then there’s a good chance you’ve missed a few errors that are turning publishers away.
#2. Keep reading other books.
The best writers are also some of the best readers. When you immerse yourself into the world of publication, you naturally become better at it yourself.
#3. Research your story ideas for unintentional duplication.
The most lucrative stories are the ones that are unique in some way. Although just about every idea in every genre has been approached in some way these days, there are ways that you can make a repetitive story your own. It might be through engaging characters, unique circumstances, or by making a key point about current events. The more novel your idea happens to be, the more likely you’ll get your novel published.
#4. Research the publishers you’re contacting as well.
If you’ve been receiving rejection letters, but you know your manuscript is awesome, then it might be a preference issue. Some publishers will only accept one specific genre of book. Others may request specific formatting that wasn’t included in the query you sent because you didn’t catch the requirement. Make sure you’re only submitting your book for consideration after you’ve thoroughly vetted the publisher [or literary agent].
#5. Create a book proposal [optional].
If you’ve written a non-fiction book, then the reason for a rejection might be due to a missing or incomplete book proposal. Think of a book proposal as a business plan for creating sales. It should include market data, how similar books have performed, and what you will do as the author to encourage more sales.
#6. Find an agent [optional].
Some big publishers may only accept a majority of their new contracts from agented authors. For the largest publishing houses in NYC, about 80% of the new books accepted come from agents. To query an agent, you’ll need to follow the same steps that you would take to query a publisher. It generally takes 60-90 days to hear back from an agent about your work if you’re a first-time author.
#7. Consider self-publishing as an option.
There are many different ways to publish a book today. You don’t have to follow the traditional route because one method isn’t necessarily better than the other today. There is no longer a stigma against self-publication. If you’re getting rejection letters, then consider talking to an academic press, an independent press, or upload your work to KDP and do the work yourself. They’re all ways that you can get your book published for the first time.
#8. Be prepared to keep experiencing rejection.
Even today’s most famous authors in the publishing world received numerous rejection letters from publishers and agents. Can you imagine the publishers that rejected Harry Potter? Or Twilight? Rejection happens in the publishing industry. Don’t let it get your disheartened. Use the experience as fuel for success. Each rejection letter brings you one step closer to being successfully published if you have the willpower to keep going.
Knowing how to get a book published for the first time starts with a high quality book with an original idea. From there, the goal is to find the right publisher who loves your book just as much as you do. By following these steps, you’ll be able to create the potential of being published with every query letter you send out.