10 Things You NEED TO KNOW to Get Published
The publishing industry is always changing so there is no guarantee you will secure a publishing contract. However, if you are talented and have mastered your craft, knowing these 10 publishing realities will provide you with a unique advantage over your competition.
Tip # 1 The Writers’ Ego is Their Worst Enemy.
I teach creative and business writing and I often see this tragic flaw in many of my students work. Because they are talented, they assume that their particular talent will NATURALLY rocket them to literary stardom once a publisher or agent reads their manuscript. They don’t need to learn the nuts and bolts of the craft because they assume the agent or publisher will overlook misspelled words, plot contrivances, and other plot killing errors and see the pure genius of their work.
They won’t. They WILL immediately dislike you for wasting their time by submitting a poorly edited and clearly amateurish manuscript. Step one: Learn the craft of writing and submit it to groups that will callously tear it to shreds. Once your ego is beaten into submission, then you’re ready for…
Tip # 2 Criticism is Your Friend. Flattery is Your Enemy
In my group we submit chapters of our manuscripts for critique. The goal is to find every little nit-picking error, to expose every plot flaw, misspelling or dialogue mistake. Once done, the critic then offers advice on how they would rewrite the piece to eliminate the exposed mistakes. Real writers embrace this because they want their novel to be as good as possible.
Flattery is only given when earned. And when it is earned then you know you have a chapter that is ready for submission to an agent or publisher.
Tip # 3 Build a Following of Loyal Readers.
Bestselling author Amanda Hocking was turned down by every agent and publisher she submitted her work to. Determined, she uploaded her books to kindle for 99 cents and gave them away for free during promotion days. Then she started a blog and asked those who stopped by to give her books a read and tell her what they thought and how they thought the book could be improved.
They did and she listened. And by doing so discovered what her readers WANTED to read and what kind of stories they liked. Armed with that knowledge she wrote books that catered to her readerships tastes.
Her sales skyrocketed. Publishers beat a path to her door.
Tip #4 Artistic Titles Kill Book Sales.
For Whom the Bell Tolls. The Grapes of Wrath. The Catcher in the Rye.
All well-known titles of classic books that would very likely be changed in today’s publishing marketplace. Why? Because a Google search for those titles’ words wouldn’t produce anything about the Spanish Civil War, the plight of migrant workers or the musings of a self-absorbed school boy. And when people want information, Google is where they start. Hemingway’s book would likely have had Spanish Civil War somewhere in its title. Faulkner’s would have Dust Bowl and Salinger’s well… I have no idea. The point, if you can jimmy the search results to feature your title on the first page of Google for a keyword like Dust bowl, that’s likely to generate a good ten thousand sales.
Tip # 5 The Majority of Writers have to Supplement their Income with Speaking Engagements.
Because top authors like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and James Patterson sell so many books that convert into movies and merchandising, much is written about them and people mistakenly assume that once you score a publishing deal it’s all gravy from then on.
Not true. Unless you sell in the millions you will likely have to supplement your income with a job or speaking engagements. In most cases the author gets the smallest portion of the pie. My first book Frostie the Deadman sold for 12.99. Of that I received $0.97 per sale. And that is considered fairly good deal for a first time novelist. It is a fact that many very talented authors never acquire the notoriety and royalties they deserve.
Tip # 6 Plagiarism
Too often new novelists are afraid that the plot of their book will be stolen.
So what? If you have only one book in you, you’re not likely to have a very long career. Realistically, new writers need to fear anonymity far more than plagiarism. The first goal is to become known in the literary marketplace. As mentioned earlier, Amanda Hocking gave away a number of her books to build a following. When Jay Leno was asked about how he felt about other comics stealing his material he replied, “I learned how to write faster than they could steal”
Success at novel writing requires an enormous amount of work, persistence and marketing. Mere talent is not enough.
Tip # 7 Waiting for Inspiration.
This is the excuse of every lightweight I have ever encountered. They can’t work on their book until they are inspired. They claim that they would rather write one truly inspired novel than a hundred mediocre ones. That’s a high minded concept but it is more likely that they’ll never finish writing that inspired novel or any other book.
To become a professional at anything requires complete immersion in the craft. Real writers write, and they write all the time. And when inspiration does come, they have all the skills necessary to make the most of it.
Tip # 8 Writing a Book Before Seeing if There is a Market For It.
If you are writing a novel for your own pleasure or to see if you can do it, by all means carry on. If you intend to secure a writing contract however, you are spinning your wheels. If you are looking to break into the market, you don’t write a book and then see if anyone wants to read it, you FIRST find out what people like to read and write a book about that topic.
Once you have established yourself as a bestselling novelist that produces work readers want to buy, THEN you can write whatever you want.
Tip # 9 Above All, Your Book MUST Entertain.
I have lost count of the number of books I have stopped reading. Why so many? Because I will not waste my time reading something that does not hold my attention.
This mistake goes back to the writer’s ego. They want to impress the reader with their mastery of word and phrase and show off their skill instead of focusing on keeping the reader engaged. For example: I recently read a book on ice fishing, and to be honest I have no idea why. I knew nothing about the sport, nor did I have any interest in it and only gave the book a look because the cover was interesting.
After a quick thumb through I purchased the book and I read it from cover to cover. Why? Because the author focused entirely on what me, the reader, would find interesting. He provided interesting content and little known facts that kept me engaged to the end.
This fact kills the theory that certain books are only for certain audiences. It doesn’t matter what you write, whether its fiction or non-fiction. Make sure every sentence makes them want to read the next one. If your tale is boring in spots, tear those spots out. Remember, once you lose a readers interest, you’ll likely lost them for good.
Tip #10 Join a Writer’s Group
If you’re serious about becoming a full time novelist then find a writer’s group and join it. If you can’t find one in your area then find one on line. The advantage is you’ll meet other writers with different talents and skills who can give you fresh insight into your work and make suggestions on how to improve it.
This is the fastest method I know of. But before you join make sure it’s a real writers group. Too often these groups are chaired by some hypersensitive flake who discourages honest critique and wants everyone to feel good about themselves. These are a waste of your time. Instead become a member of a group that is ruthless and brutal. The group I belong to is like walking into a lion’s den, so I make sure the piece I submit is the best I can do because if they can find one small chink in the armor, they will tear it apart. Becoming a member of a group like that will build you a tough skin and the ability to deal with the professional critics when your book is published.
And that my friends is just the tip of the iceberg. If you found these 10 tips helpful and you’re serious about improving your skills, then read The Best Book on How to Write, Publish and Market Your Novel into a Bestseller
In it you’ll learn how the publishing industry really works and a large number of additional tips that will get your book past the interns and directly to the decision makers. Tired of rejection letters? Then pick up your copy today. Click on image to read sample.