How to Get Published: Fiction Manuscripts

How to get publishedOf all writers, fiction writers have the tougher row to hoe. Unfortunately, unlike non-fiction counterparts, fiction manuscripts need to be completely written before submitting them to a publisher or an agent. Writers looking to significantly boost their chances of publishing success or have their hearts set on signing with a traditional publishing house will need to do much more than merely write the book. It must also be edited, revised and sometimes rather significantly re-worked, and that’s just before the first submission. Even after a manuscript has been signed on by a publishing house, there will often be other edits, revisions or rewrites that must be completed before heading to the printing press.


Go to a Professional

Yes, you should re-read your book and edit it as best as you can, but the final draft – BEFORE you send it out to agents or a publishing house – should be professionally edited. You do not want to hand in a manuscript filled with sloppy mistakes.

Agent or No Agent?

Deciding where to send a completed fiction manuscript can be overwhelming. Many writers recommend working with a literary agent, but this can be one of those Catch-22 situations where a literary agent will prefer a new author that has already been previously published. If this is a writer’s first piece of work, finding an agent can prove very difficult. If you are considering working with a literary agent, pick up a copy of the latest edition of the Writer’s Market book from your local library and do a little research on the recommended agents, keeping a special eye out for those willing to work with unpublished writing talent.

Prefer a Publishing House?

If an author prefers to have greater control over the sale of the book and use of their manuscript, they may opt to go it alone. If this is your case, you’ll need to invest in your very own copy of the latest edition of the Writer’s Market tome, an absolute essential. This is where you’ll research those publishers and publishing houses that deal with your type of manuscript. Furthermore, you’ll know if they work with unpublished authors, what percentage of those published are first time authors and a ton of other helpful facts that will minimize the number of rejection slips you have to suffer through. This is also where you’ll start the research process to verify that the editors or staff members listed as contacts in the listing are still with the company. A simple phone call should be more than enough to make sure that you have the correct contact and the correct way to spell their names. Required style guides and other pertinent information is also shared, and all of this information is updated on an annual basis.

Query the Right Way

When you finally pick an agent or publishing house you want to send your manuscript to, it is time to write your query letter.

This is where you sell your book so that someone helps you sell it to everyone else. It should capture the agent or editor’s attention from the start. Explain what your book is about, why it is so great and why you are the perfect person to write it. Try to keep it to one page and make sure to follow the agent’s query submission guidelines (or else they may not even look at it).

Don’t Give Up

Even if a rejection letter shows up in your mailbox – or 2, or 3, or 10! – don’t give up. There are too many stories to count about great novels that were turned down over and over again until someone decided to give it a chance.

You can also opt to get your book published online, a method that is becoming increasingly popular these days, especially with more and more people using tablets and other mobile devices to read books online.

Useful resources:

Writer’s Market
How to Write a Query Letter

Filed in: Getting Published

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