The first step in the publishing process is to write your best. Weak characters, predictable plots and bad grammar will not make it in the world of the published novel. Research your facts properly and be a writer with integrity.
Perseverance is vital. A writer is someone who continues to create using words, because it is like breathing for them. They don’t give up on their dreams just because they have set-backs. Hundreds of famous authors were rejected hundreds of times before they were accepted.
Perseverance doesn’t mean that you mustn’t change how you do things. If one way doesn’t work, try something else. Re-write your book in the first person instead of the third person. Make a more interesting character the protagonist, and see what happens. Your words are not carved in stone; you can change them anytime you need to. But always keep a copy of the bits you deleted in case you can make them work for you somewhere else.
Get other people to read your novel. Choose people who will tell you the truth without being cruel about it. I usually get a mix of writers and non-writers, different ages, male and female. Everyone will spot something different that you need to work on.
Find the right home for your book. Do your research on various publishers. With the internet, it is so easy to see what kind of books they are looking for. Know what genre your book is, and google publishers who are looking for that particular type of book. Don’t send your adult romantic fiction to a firm who only publishes young adult fantasy.
Study their submission guidelines and follow them exactly. Publishers will not waste their time with writers who can’t be bothered to read.
Finding a publisher who believes in you and your book is one of the best feelings in the world, but be warned. Publishers have been known to bail on their contracts. It has happened to me and several of my friends. Get excited, but not to the point of being traumatised if it doesn’t work out!
On the subject of contracts, there are often legal terms that we might not understand, so try and find a lawyer who can go over it and check that everything is okay.
Once your book has been accepted, the editing starts. This might seem tedious or discouraging, but it is making your book better by forcing you to think very hard about the plot and the characters. If you are writing a series, you need to have a good idea of what will be happening in the future stories in case you need to have some small details in the first book.
You get some input in designing your cover, but the publishers have the final say. After all, this is their business, and they have far better contacts in Graphic Design and marketing than writers probably do.
Then you need to have a social media strategy. Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, an email address. You need to have some online presence so that people can find you.
It takes hard work and discipline to reach your goal of being a published author, but it is also creative and fun. Your story and characters have come to life. They have gone out into the world to make new friends, and maybe even change the world in some small way.
Enjoy the feeling…
And then get right back to your computer and start writing the next one!
Julianne Alcott’s first novel, The Ripmender, will be available as an e-book on the 6th May 2014.
To pre-order, click here.