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Basic steps to follow in mainstream publishing

If going Printing-2159700_1920 the mainstream publishing route, there are some very general steps that most writers traditionally follow.

First, make sure your novel is in manuscript form. Each place you submit your novel has slightly different rules, so you’ll want to become familiar with the general guidelines and then learn specific expectations that various editors/lit agents/publishers have. As a side note, make sure your manuscript is as clean of spelling, punctuation, capitalization and grammar errors as possible, meaning you’ll need to have some people read it over.

Next, you’ll need to write a query letter and a synopsis of the first novel. These items introduce you and your work to the person you’re submitting materials to. Again, there are some basic industry guidelines for how these should be written, and each needs to be tailored to who you’re sending the letter and synopsis to.

From there, you’ll want to move on to finding a literary agent. There are several reputable guidebooks for sale at bookstores or available free online that list literary agents, whether or not they’re accepting submissions, the type of writing they handle, their unique submission requirements, and contact information. You’ll need to spend some time perusing the guidebook to create your own list of the literary agents that would be most interested in your work. Make sure the guides you use are no more than a year old.

With novels, don’t limit yourself to literary agents, however. Also submit your work to publishing houses. A few accept unsolicited submissions. Lists of those companies also appear online and in published guides (located on the same library or bookstore shelves where you’ll find the literary agents guides). Should a publishing house show interest in your work, immediately reach out to a literary agent to represent you; you’ll find that at least a couple will be interested.

None of this is inexpensive, by the way. While many literary agents and publishers accept email submissions, many still want to see your query letter, synopsis and manuscript on paper. So you’ve got the expense of paper, envelopes, printer cartridges and stamps. Given the low rate of mainstream publisher’s acceptance of new authors, this makes self-publishing a very viable option. You literally can self-publish your book for free, and all of the skills you need to know to accomplish this are easily mastered if you’re willing to put in the time.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Columbus, Ohio, or a small town like Ricketts, Iowa, I can provide that second eye.


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