Just about everyone and their aunt Lilian want to write a book. If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say, “I’d love to write a book!” well, I’d have a lot of nickels.
The problem is that not everyone can, or should, write a book. And for those who should, very few know how. They may have the writing chops, dedication, and the right message, but they don't know where to start or whom to talk to.
At Lucid Books, we’ve put together a list of what you’ll need to do in order to get your book published. While these steps may not guarantee you to get your book published, following the steps with a dedicated spirit will help greatly increase your chances.
1. Determine your genre and audience
Contrary to many beliefs about writing, you shouldn't write only what your muse tells you to write. Focused writing will find itself much more successful than writing on a whim.
Determine what genre your topic would fit under, and then think through what your target audience is like. Good writers keep their audience in mind while writing so they can ensure their writing meets the specific needs of their readers.
2. Read good quality books
You’ve probably heard this a million times, but it bears repeating. If you want to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader.
This doesn't mean you have to have a degree in literature. You don't have to be well-versed in Shakespeare, Keats, Wordsworth, and the like. But, you must be an avid reader of good books in your genre. You need to know what other writers are saying, how they are saying it, and how their work is received by audiences.
This sounds simple, I know. But, if you don't write, you will never publish a book. Publishers don't sign authors who have a great idea but nothing written.
Also, if you want writing to be your job or hobby, you have to strengthen your writing skills, and the only way to get good at writing is to write.
4. Get professional opinions
You can't remain in a bubble as a writer. You need to have other writers and professionals look at your writing.
Before you submit your manuscript to a publisher, have your writing partner review it (side note: you should have a writing partner), have a professional editor review it and take it to a writing conference so other professionals can review it. The point is, the team at a publishing company should not be the first people, other than you and your friends and family, to see your manuscript.
5. Determine your commercial potential
In order for your message to reach people, it must have some commercial potential. If what you have written won't appeal to your target audience, or if there are a thousand books written on the subject and in the same style as yours, the book probably won't reach many people, and a publisher probably won't be interested.
6. Ask yourself why you want to be published
If you are looking to be a published writer because you want to be famous, live in a mansion, and send your kids to private schools, writing isn't for you. But more realistically, if you are looking to get published so you can have a 5 or 6 figure advance or so you can see your book on bookshelves, you probably shouldn't pursue publishing.
Not every writer achieves those things, and very few achieve them with their first book. If you want to be published so your message can help people, keep at it for as long as it takes.
7. Build your readership
This is so important. Most writers want to write and publish a book, and don't want to worry about platform building. But, you won't have much luck promoting your published book to no one. It can take months or years to build a solid readership, so before you even begin the publishing process, you should start the platform building process. You will find it is much easier to tell people about your book when you have people to tell.
8. Set your goals
You need to know what your goals as a writer are and what your goals for your book are. Before you begin researching publishers and determining which one is right for your book, you will need to know what your goals are.
9. Research publishers
There are many publishing options out there. Not all of them are right for you and your book. Research your options, and find a publisher who will meet your needs and help you meet your goals as a writer.
10. Prepare your materials for submission
As you research publishers, determine what materials they require for submission. You want to make sure your materials are in order and well-written. This is the first or second interaction the publisher will have with you, so you want to make sure that what you put forth is professional and what they asked for. Publishers have no time for writers who don't follow instructions or who have a haphazard submission.
11. Be okay with rejection
One of the most important things to remember—maybe the most important thing—is that a lot of rejection usually precedes getting a book published. Sometimes your book isn't ready, or your writing isn't up to par. Sometimes the book isn't the right fit for a publisher, or it isn't the right time. Rejection is okay, but if you aren't prepared to face it you’ll give up after the first few rejections and never get your book published.
If you feel like these steps are too much for you to tackle—don't. The very nature of steps is that you can take them one at a time.
If you aren't sure where to start, begin by reading books in the field you’re interested in, thinking about the topic you want to write about, and getting excited about the possibilities. Then continue to grow in your craft, increase your platform, and work forward from there.
Do you have a draft written, or a book proposal ready, and are ready to move forward in partnering with a publisher? Contact us, and we’ll be in touch with you to discuss your book.