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Subscribe to our FREE email newsletter and download free character development worksheets! Those of us who have worked in publishing can attest to the obvious fact that few first-time writers have the slightest idea of what goes on behind the scenes at their publishers.
In fact, the opposite is true: Developing a basic understanding of the process with a realization of how you can impact the sale of your book is crucial to your success. If you dream of a career as a writer, the more knowledge you have about the marketplace and the publishing process, the better your chance of making your dreams come true.
There are two crucial parts to every writing career: The first is the writing and completion of your manuscript and preparing it for acquisition and publication, and the second is everything that goes along with the production, marketing, sale and distribution of your book.
Browse the aisles, make observations and read similar books in the same broad genre as your own.
Take note of the cover design, jacket copy and sources of the endorsement blurbs—anything that went into the process of publishing what you see in front of you. Bookstores are laboratories for marketing and selling books. Writing is a craft, but publishing is a business.
To become a successful author you must develop a knowledge of that laboratory. Being able to intelligently discuss books and authors with professionals who make their living in publishing builds your credibility as a market-savvy author—especially if you can demonstrate an understanding of where your own book will fit in.
Once you know exactly where your work belongs on the shelf, be sure that knowledge is reflected in the query or cover letter accompanying your submissions to agents or editors. It will increase your chances of getting one. Houses compete to sign the best manuscripts possible.
The major houses, as a rule, do not accept unsolicited submissions. They rely on agents to supply them with a steady stream of publishable possibilities. Once an editor agrees to read a manuscript, it has passed a critical test. Every publisher has an acquisition committee of editors, publishers and sales and marketing representatives dedicated to finding manuscripts that can, to put it bluntly, make the company money.
There are three broad criteria publishers use to make these selections. The first is whether or not they feel the manuscript is well written and informative or entertaining. The second is whether or not they think it can secure a wide enough distribution to booksellers—and then attract enough consumers to generate sufficient revenue.
The third is whether or not the author has a platform and is promotable.
Each manuscript must meet all three criteria, almost without exception, to be seriously considered. If your book is salable but the company recently acquired two similar titles, yours may get the bump. Publishers go to great lengths to produce a well-rounded list of titles.Download Our Free Writing Planner!
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We know that writers don't keep regular "business hours," so our planner is designed to help you schedule your writing tasks around your hours. I've always been a big nerd. But for one shining moment, one GLORIOUS MOMENT, when I finished writing my book, OH BOY, YOU'RE HAVING A GIRL: A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters, I felt like a complete and utter badass.
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Every writer follows his or her own writing process. Often the process is a routine that comes naturally and is not a step-by-step guide to which writers refer. Being conscious of your own writing process is especially helpful when you find yourself struggling with a particularly tricky piece.