Don’t take this the wrong way, folks. I’m a fairly new published writer, my first novel has been out a couple of years, my second arrived on the scene last July. Permit me to share my experiences of writer wannabe. Take it for what it’s worth and maybe it’s not worth much at all. It comes from the heart, however.
First piece of advice: polish your manuscript till it gleams. Edit, revise, edit some more and then take another long hard look at it. Do you need that scene? Does it push the story along? Do you have the tension in each chapter needed to carry your readers? If you’re planning to self-publish, make sure someone proofs it for you. You may be a great self-editor, but we as writers are too close to our own work. If you can’t afford one, have a friend or family member help. Even if you plan to submit to a publishing house or agent, it may still behoove you to have another person take a look. As a reader, nothing annoys me more than seeing mistakes in a published work. I know of one best-selling novelist that is so famous, her editors fail to check her books anymore. I see things in there that made me cringe. No, I’m not going to name her, but you’d recognize her.
Second, accept the fact that you will be carrying the marketing load. Large publishers give new books about one month to succeed or crash. Then it’s onto the next one. And the next. Smaller publishers may believe in your work, but they don’t have the time nor the budgets to market. Ask other writers what they do to keep their books in front of readers. Explore the vast world wide interweb and find those sites that can help you market. GoodReads is an excellent place to start – if you have time to sit at your computer and chat with readers. Freado.com is a good one, as is BookDaily.com. I got involved with another site that I paid money to have certain products and not only didn’t I get my money’s work, I can’t even talk to the guy in charge. If anyone wants to know who that is, I’ll tell you that web site’s name only in private.
Third, if you plan to submit to publishers and agents, follow their submission guidelines to the letter. Authors who don’t send what the agent or editor wants get tossed aside without a second glance. Not just submit what and when they want, mind your manners. I’m sure your parents taught you ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Politeness goes a long way. As does graciousness. If you’re rejected, don’t take it personally. I know, don’t say it – that’s one of the hardest parts of this business to understand. I took my rejections personally, at first. But do not, whatever you do, write a scathing letter in return telling the aforementioned agent or editor off. If possible, send a gracious thank you and move on. My own editor has said he doesn’t much appreciate bad manners. He’s also said he’s rejected a manuscript, only to have the writer fix it and resubmit – and he took it. A rejection may be an opened door. In addition, if you have an editor considering you, do not pester him. Give him time, weeks or even months, to sift through his pile before asking, politely, if your manuscript is what he needs and/or is looking for. If he hasn’t, give him more time.
Last, I think I should advise persistence. Keep at it. If the big publishers refuse you, consider medium to small outfits. I decided that, for me, the way to break into the business is e-publishing. And the third publisher I submitted to accepted my first novel, “In a Wolf’s Eyes”. That was three years ago and things have changed so much in that time. Publishing in general, readers, tablets, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, traditional books – all are so very different than when I first tried to get published. Think of how much more they’ll change in the future.