Once you’ve finished a manuscript for a book, it shouldn’t just stay as a file on your computer. It deserves to have a chance to get published. To make that happen, you’re going to want to know how to submit a book for publication so that it has the best possible chance of being reviewed. Here is what you’re going to want to do.
#1. Make sure your book is properly edited and formatted.
If you’re on the first or second draft of your book, then it’s not ready to be published yet. Until you’ve verbally read your book out loud and edited it that way, then it isn’t ready for a review. It may even be beneficial to hire a professional editor to take a look at it.
Then you’ll want to format your book according to industry standards or the specific requests of the publisher. This may include a specific font, margins, and indentation for new paragraphs or dialogue sequences.
#2. Determine the genre of your book.
Your book has a specific genre. It’s your job to determine what that genre happens to be. You don’t want to be too generic [“My book is a mystery novel!”], but you also don’t want to be ultra-specific [“My book is a western historical science-fiction romance!”]
If you’re struggle with the “genre” label, then approach this step from a categorical standpoint. Which books are most like yours? What category do those books fit into? Then you’ll have the answer to this question.
And, if you still can’t find the right genre or category for your book, just call it “Mainstream Fiction.” You’ll be good to go.
#3. Evaluate the commercial potential of your book.
Publishers want to do know what you can do to market your book right now. They want authors who are committed to building their own success. If you don’t have any marketing plans in place, no online presence as an author, and aren’t putting together travel plans to do some book signings – then selling your book to a publisher is going to be tough.
The structure of your book also becomes an influence of your commercial potential. Books longer than 120,000 words can be difficult to sell. Poetry, unless you’ve already made a name for yourself, is virtually impossible to sell. Even non-fiction is difficult to sell to a publisher without the idea of selling at least 10k copies of the book.
So look at the ways your book is unique. How does that uniqueness provide value to your potential readers? Then tell publishers the information you’ve collected.
#4. Consider trying to find an agent to represent you.
Although you don’t need an agent to present a book to a publisher, it will help you out a great deal. 4 out of 5 books that are sold to NYC publishers are done so through the actions of a literary agent.
Finding an agent is virtually the same process as finding a publisher. You’ll want to follow these guidelines. Then the agent, if they agree to represent you, will put your work before publishers to see if there is any interest.
#5. Find a niche publisher that is interested in your type of content.
One of the best places you can find a publisher online is called Writer’s Market. It has a cost to access the database, but you’ll also have consistent access to publisher contact information that you won’t have to look up on your own. There’s also a print edition if you prefer, which eliminates the monthly access cost to the database.
If you’re looking for an agent, you can use a website like Agent Query. You can also look up local literary agents and contact them directly. It is usually better to contact local agents as a local author so that it is easier to meet together to discuss the finer details of your relationship whenever possible.
#6. Include your query letter.
Every submission to a publisher [or an agent] requires a query letter. This letter should include a brief summary of your book, an explanation of the plot, and a short bio about yourself. You may also wish to include any literary awards you’ve won and specific marketing efforts you’ve already taken to promote your book.
Then all you need to do is submit all of your materials. You may be asked to submit the query letter only at first. You might also be asked for sample chapters or the entire manuscript. You must be prepared for all eventualities. Then, when you are by following these steps, you’ll know how to submit a book for publication.