So, you’ve finally completed a polished, perfected, and ready-to-present manuscript. First of all, congratulations! This is a HUGE accomplishment, and honestly, I would recommend taking a few days off from the whole process to just celebrate. Enjoy your success and your relaxation, because the publishing process, while worth it, will be a long one.
What exactly does it take to go from manuscript to a published book on a shelf? While there are thousands of how-to guides out there, they can sometimes all mix together, contradict one another, and ultimately make everything more confusing. What you really need when trying to publish your book is all of your information in one place, and laid out in easy steps that you can follow as you work to optimize your success.
Well, I’ve done some digging and I’ve come up with just that. Here are ten steps to guide you on your journey from manuscript to a published book.
1. Make Sure It’s Done
This might sound like anti-exciting way to start off this list, but it’s honestly the most important step. Make sure that you not only have a completed manuscript, but a revised and polished manuscript that you can actually present to a potential publisher with confidence. Before anyone can even consider publishing your writing, they have to read your manuscript, and if you have errors or your writing is not high quality, you don’t stand a chance at moving into what comes next. In addition, if you are not confident in your writing, you will not present your work well, and the publisher will not see someone who knows how to promote their work or that expects sales from their work. Once your manuscript is done, edit, revise, and repeat until you have your best writing. Not sure how to properly edit? I would suggest reading your manuscript out loud to yourself or other people and then marking down errors as you come across them. Also, know the value of outside opinions and that it is crucial to have them. Join a critique group, hire an editor, submit excerpts of your book to online editors, and then rewrite several times until you have your best copy.
2. Write Your Introductory Pieces
Your finished manuscript says a lot about your work, however it is oftentimes professional and convenient if you have shorter pieces to accompany it. Once your manuscript is completely done, I would recommend writing summaries, single-sentence hooks, a synopsis, a bio-page, a writing platform, a strong list of novels that are similar to yours, and promotional ideas. Each of these pieces not only help to introduce your novel, but they also show that you know what you want, know what you’re talking about, and know how to be professional. Also, a side note: creating a list of comparable titles does not make your book look weak in comparison, it just helps to define it and place it among a similar genre.
3. Think of ALL the Possibilities
The next step involves options. Many first-time manuscript completers (is that even a word?) opt to congratulate themselves on their first manuscript, and then set it aside to begin working on another one. While this may sound discouraging to you, the reality is that very few first-time manuscripts end up being published, and many writers like to build a repertoire of manuscripts until they write one that is sure to sell. However, I realize that this step is not for everyone, and you should know that there are other options. Many people go on to hire a literary agent in order to represent them, or seek a referral in order to validate their work. Both of these are good steps if you haven’t been published before because representatives have experience and referrals look good when trying to get published.
4. See Where You’re At
After that last step, you may need to do some evaluating. Either you opted to keep writing and you know have multiple manuscripts, or you put yourself out there and either got accepted or rejected. First, know that wherever you are, it is okay. For those of you that continued to write, I would know suggest you begin to look for an agent or for representation. One of those completed manuscripts might just be your first published novel in the making, and there’s only one way to find out.
For those of you that put yourself out there, got rejected, and are now facing the book blues, don’t give up. You have been given feedback and you should use it. Take what you learned from your first try and use it your advantage in your second try. Writing is not for the weak, and it is not a field that tolerates quitters. Keep writing and put yourself out there again.
Finally, if you put yourself out there and found success, congratulations! Keep reading, because the next step is for you.
5. Be Wary
So you’ve been offered some type of validation. Whether you’ve been in contact with an agent, been offered representation, or have been published you need to be wary of your predicament. First off, remember to do your research. Not all literary agents are created equal, and you need to do some serious evaluating of your agent before you commit to anything. Find an agent or representative that will speak highly of you and your work, and that knows what they are doing and are professional. The same advice goes for publishers and publishing companies. Make sure you find a good fit, and only agree to work with people and companies that you are comfortable with. Never just jump at the first opportunity you get without investigating.
***That’s it! I hope you found this post useful and beneficial for your writing progress. I’d love to hear from you guys on your thoughts about manuscripts, publishing, literary agents, etc. so feel free to share your advice in the comments. As always, I do not know everything, so I’m going to post a few helpful links below that can give you guys even more of an insight into what to do with your finished manuscript. Thanks for reading!***