This year I plan to dedicate my blog to all things writing and publishing. What worked for me and what didn’t work for me as a writer and publisher. I don’t consider myself an expert, and by no means do I claim to know everything. So, I will blog about what I know and the lessons, hard or otherwise, I’ve learned.
I receive many questions from my readers about connecting with publishers. Publishing is complex and complicated. This goes for both traditional and self. It’s a process I can’t explain in one email. So I often respond with a question of my own. I ask, at what stage are you in your writing? Most reply that they haven’t started the process; they’re at the half-way point or almost finished. I will tell you what I told them. Scouting is great, but you must have a completed piece of work before you contact a publisher or agent.
However, there are exceptions to this rule. Some publishers take proposals. The proposals are most often limited in time and geared toward a specific category within a genre. For example, a romance publisher might ask for LBGQ western romantic comedies or erotic romantic suspense quickies. You get the picture. If you have great ideas but not many written chapters, check out Submittables, a platform some publishers use for proposals and other submissions. Also, check out Authors Publish. AP makes lists of publishers who are taking non-agented proposals and completed work. They issue their lists via newsletters. What I like about AP is that they check publishers out and tell you what they found. Not all publishers are reputable; some are at-your-own-risk types.
Another exception to the rule is non-fiction. If you plan to write non-fiction and publish traditionally, most will accept proposals. The dept of the proposal will depend on the publisher or the agent. But most require a detailed summary and a business plan, how and who you plan to market your book to. Jane Friedman, a guru of business strategies for writers and publishers and someone I suggest you follow, has written about non-fiction writing and planning. Jane Friendman.com/How to write a book proposal
Back to fiction… Before you sent in a proposal or completed novel, your work must be edited by a professional. This was a hard-learned lesson for me. It took me some time to find professionals I could trust, and yes, afford. Good editing isn’t cheap. Your aunt, a retired teacher, might muster up, but I suggest a non-related, subjective professional.
When choosing a professional editor, do your homework. Good editors aren’t easy to acquire. If you connect with an editor and they aren’t taking new clients, often the case, ask for recommendations. Good editors know other good editors. I use Hot Tree Editing. They are professional, personable, edit both traditional and self-published authors, and take the approach; writers aren’t one-size-fits-all.
The first and hardest thing for a writer is starting. I know that sound cliche’, obvious, silly, or fill in the blank. But it’s true. We’ll discuss this and more in my next post.