Getting Published

‘My advice to aspiring authors is to read widely and read outside of their genres. Read everything from classics to best sellers and even the newspapers. It doesn’t matter what genre you write. Then get your posterior on a chair and write every day. Even if you manage 500 new words every day, that’s something. Revise your manuscript to within an inch of its life. Get peer reviews from fellow writers (you can find them at places such as www.absolutewrite.com/forums) and submit, submit, submit. For every rejection you receive, send out another submission until you can honestly say you’ve tried.’Nerine Dorman, author of Khepera Rising. 

So … you’ve finished your book. Congratulations! Now what?

Well … you have a few decisions to make. Do you start submitting to agents? Do you submit to small or independent publishers? Or do you go the indie route all on your own? Do you go print or ebook? Or try both? In todays publishing climate all of these options are viable, it just depends on what you’re looking for and how much rejection you’re willing to take.

If you go the self-publishing route don’t just get your auntie or your mother to edit it for you. Hire a proper editor. Self-publishing has a bad wrap because writers don’t have their books edited properly or they don’t get a cover designed. Self-publishers often end up with an unprofessional product and as a result it’s looked down upon and it doesn’t sell. So … hire an editor and get a professional to design your cover. You want your book to be and look as good as it possibly can, don’t you? You also don’t want people to leave scathing reviews on Amazon because your book was riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. And people do judge books by their covers.

One of the really nice things about the horror industry is that there are quite a few reputable small and indie publishers who are focused on horror. You don’t need an agent to submit to them but you do need to stick to their submission guidelines. Every publisher will have their submission guidelines on their website, read them carefully. Do not deviate from what they ask for. If they ask for the first three chapters, only send them the first three chapters. Don’t send them the whole manuscript. They get so many submissions and can only afford to publish a handful, so you don’t want to give them a reason to reject you before they’ve even had a chance to read those first few chapters.

Rejection sucks! But it’s also a part of being a writer. You need to develop a thick skin in this industry. You’re going to get rejected a LOT and even once you’ve got that ever illusive publishing deal, you’ll have to deal with reviewers ripping your book to shreds. So put on your armour and get ready to take a few blows to your ego. Even Stephen King got a hundred rejection letters before he was first published. I’ve still got my first rejection letter, which I got when I was twelve. Handle the rejection gracefully. Don’t reply to the rejection letter with a snotty note on what a huge mistake they’ve made. Simply thank them for their time. You never know when you’ll want to submit to them again. They’ll remember if you were rude.

Agents are just as hard to get these days as a publishing deal with a big publishing house, especially for a first time author. Agents have often got a full list and can’t take on new clients. They also take their cut of your royalties. But if you manage to get a good one, they’re worth their weight in gold. And if you want to get in with one of the big houses, you’ll need an agent.

To be honest, I’m a fan of the small and indie publishers. They do so much for their writers and they provide a lot more freedom. Big publishers are focused on the bottom line and what they think will sell. They seem to stick to what they know and what’s sold in the past. They don’t go out of their comfort zone and want things to fit nicely in a box, whereas the smaller publishers take risks and push boundaries. The writer also has more say in the cover design and pretty much everything else with a small publisher. You’re just another cog in the wheel with a big publisher. One of the draw backs with a small publisher is that they don’t have a budget for promotion and marketing. You’ll have to do it all yourself, which while a lot of work can be a great deal of fun.

Make a list of the publishers you’d like to submit to, make sure it’s a reasonably long list, but just remember most of the big publishers do not take unsolicited manuscripts, that’s where agents come in. You need to play a numbers game here. The more publishers or agents you submit to, the greater your chances of getting picked up. Have a look at their guidelines, stick to them and send it off. Then hit the next one on your list.

Now the long wait starts. Publishers and agents can take three to six months to get back to you, only to reject you. If you haven’t heard back within six months, send a follow up to make sure they got it. Sometimes things get lost in the inbox. Just keep at it. Being a writer requires persistence. You’re not going to get anywhere in this business unless you put yourself out there and keep doing it.

While you’re waiting, start work on another book or get a few short stories out. You have to keep writing and submitting. Writers Write.

Have a look at these websites:

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