Sunday, January 18, 2009

How to Get Published in 2009

How to Get Published in 2009
By Patricia L. Fry

Is this the year that you’ll finally hold your finished book in your hands? What steps are you taking toward this goal?

For many, the hardest part of the publishing process is finding a publisher. If publishing is in your thoughts this year, you are probably asking:

* How do I go about finding a publisher?

* How do I approach a publisher?

* Do I need an agent?

* How many rejections are enough?

* At what point should I consider self-publishing?

If you haven’t had any of these questions rolling around in your mind, you aren’t ready to publish your book. The rest of you are probably eagerly awaiting my responses to one or more of these questions.

1: How does one find an appropriate publisher? Note: The word appropriate, in this sentence, is important because publishers are not one-size-fits-all propositions, these days. Most of them specialize. It’s necessary that you can identify the genre of your book before you start a publisher search.

A: Find the appropriate publisher for your genre and topic in Writer’s Market. Or use their database at for a nominal fee. There are also other publishers references guides you can use.

B: Visit your nearest mega bookstore. Look at books similar to yours and note the authors of those books. Locate contact information and submission guidelines for those publishers.

C: Do a Google search to find publishers in your genre.

2: Approach the publisher in the way he or she requires. First, always request (or locate online) their submission guidelines. Study them. Make sure that your project fits this publisher’s requirements. Submit the materials that particular publisher requests and in the way he/she requests it. Address your query letter or book proposal cover letter to the appropriate individual (by name).

Likewise, if the publisher accepts only manuscripts of 80,000 words, don’t send him a 20,000-word novella or a 150,000-word book. If he requires a book proposal first, don’t send the complete manuscript.

3: Do you need an agent? It depends. While some publishers require that you approach them only through an agent, others prefer working directly with an author. Finding an agent can be as daunting and frustrating as finding a publisher. And landing an agent does not mean that you will automatically get published.

Note: Choose an agent appropriate for your particular book who is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR,

4: If you get rejected—and you probably will—then you have a decision to make. The thing that most authors don’t realize is that there are hundreds of publishers out there—large, medium and small. Writer’s Market lists over 150 publishers of educational material, for example. There are at least 60 publishers for creative nonfiction. Do you write mysteries? In Writer’s Market you’ll find over 100 publishers of mysteries seeking good books. And there are around 100 publishers for juvenile books. Writer’s Market has an extensive list of publishers, but this volume does not include all of them.

Rejection is pretty much inevitable. As you may know if you’ve been studying the publishing industry, some best-selling books were rejected numbers of times before they were either accepted or the author self-published and brought them to notice. There’s one thing for sure, if you give up after three or 103 rejections, the book will never be published.

A general rule of thumb for many is that if a book is rejected across the board by, say 10 or more appropriate publishers, maybe you need to take another look at your book. Perhaps the focus isn’t quite right. Maybe it needs editing. Did any of the publishers critique the book, give you advice or suggestions? If so, this could be a sign that it has promise. Most publishes will reject a bad idea or a poorly written book with no comment.

So how many rejections are enough? You could land a contract the first time out or it may take 120 rejections before the time is right, the circumstance is right and the right publisher comes along. Or you might decide to bypass the traditional royalty publisher altogether and self-publish. If this is your decision, be prepared to promote hard and hardy to make your book a success. Better yet, be sure that your book is truly a good idea and not just wishful thinking.

5: When should one consider self-publishing? For some, self-publishing is the answer. Don’t waste your time seeking out a traditional royalty publisher. An example would be a local history book, a memoir about someone who isn’t known. For others, self-publishing is never the right answer. How’s that for confusing the issue?

Truly, if you have a great idea, you present it in a timely manner, it is an extremely well written book, there is an audience who is hungry for this book and you have the time, ideas, money, energy and willingness for promoting this book, then go ahead and consider self-publishing.

For the rest of you, once you have exhausted all avenues to getting your book published, you have examined your book to make sure it is a viable product, you’ve written a complete book proposal and have honestly responded to all parts of it, then self-publishing may be for you.

I generally suggest self-publishing (establishing your own publishing company) rather than going with a POD publishing service. But if you want to go that route, please, please, please, study your options. In his book, The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, Mark Levine compares many of these companies to make it easy to choose the one that’s right for you.

Don’t be in so much of a hurry to publish that you start making costly mistakes.

Patricia Fry is the author of 25 published books, including, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book and The Author’s Repair Kit. She is also the president of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network,

Visit her publishing blog at:
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Ms. Fry’s free guide to writing a Post-Publication Book Proposal can be requested by emailing her at:

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