The chasm between writing a book and actually getting to publish it is growing every day in some cases. With traditional houses getting more submissions than they can handle and rejecting a majority of them, it becomes imperative to understand and implement the tips that might make the journey easier.
1. Make your Book Compelling
It is common knowledge that a book must have an appealing, happening story to succeed. But what is not often said is that it has to be much better than peers and previously published works to land a publishing contract. Since the market is flooded with self-published books and those from vanity publishing houses too, the main requirement to land a publishing contract is to make your book compelling enough for them to take notice.
2. Complete your Book First
Most authors decide to start their research on publishing options and jump onto the ‘what next’ even before the book has been completely written. This practice is good if there is enough material and focus on keeping the writer engaged with writing the book alongside. But in most cases, these ‘researches’ are mere practices for procrastination. And they also make the entire task look so daunting and may end up discouraging the writer.
3. Do your Research on Publishing Options
Not every book is cut out for traditional publishing. Depending upon the author’s needs and target audience, there are other options that can be considered. Especially since the traditional publishing houses do not accept all the manuscripts that come to them, the high rejection rates have discouraged many authors from ever publishing. But with the right research, other options like self-publishing or digital publishing can also fit the book’s needs.
4. Understand the Target Demographic
Readers’ interests vary from person to person. Even the same reader might want to explore different genres at different points. But there are certain specific genres that have been proven to work with a specific set of the target audience. For instance, romance as a broad genre works the most universally because it deals with feelings everyone understands, whereas niche genres like philosophical or satire books require a different audience who appreciate the subtleties of the subject material.
Understanding who your book is for will influence the way you package and present it. The blurb and other aspects will highlight the features of the novel that will appeal most to the particular target demographic. It would also decide how much you explain and how much basic understanding of the subject you would want your readers to have.
5. Have a Smashing Synopsis
The synopsis will be one of the first things publishers see about your book. It has to be written in such a way that it highlights the most important features of the book and makes them want to pick up your manuscript and publish it. The synopsis should be detailed enough to hold the interest, but also short enough to not reveal everything in the book. This is the hardest part of any publishing journey and should be prepared once the final draft is completed.
6. Get your Book Edited by Professionals
Even if you are good with English, and have an impeccable vocabulary, it is important to hire a professional editor, whose work would benefit the book. Editing is not just about language correction, but also about plot consistency checks and packaging the book into a publishing-worthy format. Often underrated, editing is perhaps the most important investment if you want your book to be taken seriously.
7. Establish a Presence on Social Media
No matter what type of publishing your book comes under, it is important that as the author, you must have a social media image so the readers can recognize the brand that is you. The author’s branding is to be established to facilitate better book recognition and would also help future releases if any. This is one of the most ignored routes but always eventually proves beneficial.
8. Decide on Strategies
A huge part of a book’s success lies in reaching the readers. These days, there is heavy competition in the market, and it has become incredibly hard for one book to stand out. With the right marketing, and reaching the right people on the right platforms, a book can become a bestseller and create sales records. The ‘rights,’ though, are decided separately for each book and author, depending upon a variety of factors.
Deciding the marketing strategies in advance helps time the posts and promotions when the book eventually releases. The author will have to balance between responding to reviews and also getting their book into more and more readers’ shelves. It is imperative to practice and clearly plan the marketing in advance, so it is not left as a last resort.
9. Hire a Literary Agent
Even though this tip should come with a ‘beware of scammers’ warning, it is understood that malpractices exist in every industry, and there will always be people who take advantage of gullibility and naiveté. But in this particular line, hiring a literary agent is mandatory if you are looking to publish your book traditionally. They are the ones who will pitch your manuscript to publishers, and also help you present it better.
The good literary agents would be listed as the ones with the most successes, and it will require a lot of research to find out those who are recommended by official channels, including publishing houses. This will be the most important step for those who dream of being traditionally published. The literary agent is the one who will represent your book and knock on doors that are otherwise closed to you.
10. Plan Ahead for Contingencies
Understand the risks that might arise during any stage in the publication process and take rejections, refusals, mistakes, deadlines shooting past, people backpedaling, etc., in your stride. Have backup plans and contingency measures for all the major eventualities that you foresee, so if and when some spoke falls, the wheel does not stop spinning.
Publishing, even with all the competition, is one amazing journey. The most important of all these tips is, perhaps, this single philosophy: enjoy the process. Only if you do that can you cherish the experience later on.
Dhivya Balaji is an Engineer turned Editor. She is the founder of Precis Penning Literary Services, through which she hopes to ease the stress of authors by providing an array of services.