How to get published

 Step 1.
Finish your book. Yes, publishers DO accept books that haven' t been finished- but only if you are a cricket legend, famous author, or an ex President of the United States.

Step 2.

Read your book again. Ask yourself WHY anyone will want to read beyond page one, beyond chapter one and why they'll want to keep on going. No one keeps reading a book just because it's beautiful writing. They have to want to know what will happen, or  how, or really enjoy being with the characters or fascinated by  that particular world you have created.

 

Step 3.

Re write your book. If you're not honest enough to admit it could be better if you rewrote it, you're not yet a professional writer. Professionals work at their writing. Amateurs zap off a book and cross their fingers.

 

Step 4.
Don't send your story to your favourite author and ask if they can get it published for you. They can't. Each book is accepted on their own merits and a covering letter from an author won't help. 
Authors aren't experts on what books will sell- they are experts in writing their own type of books. The decision to accept a book is taken by experts in editing and marketing.

Most writers get asked at least six times a week to look at people's stories or help get them published. It takes hours to assess even a very short story, and several days at least to assess a book...and most people just want to be told 'hey, your story is brilliant' even if it isn't.                   

There are manuscript assessment agencies who CAN help you get your story into shape- for  a fee. Contact the Writer's Association in your nearest capital city, or the Australian Society of Authors.  They may also be able to tell you about writing workshops too, or mentoring schemes.

      

Of course you can see if your favourite writer will be your mentor - officially or unofficially. But all writers have only two hands, one brain and 24 hours in a day, and there's a limit to what they can take do...and sometimes it really hurts to have to say 'no.' 

Step 5.
Browse through a bookshop and see who is publishing your sort of book, and send it off to that publisher.

      

Publishers will tell you to only send it to one publisher at a time, but you can send it to as many as you want to. the first one to accept it, gets it!

 

Step 6.
Be patient. You probably won't hear for months- maybe even 18 months or more.

Step 7.
If it's rejected, work out how you can make it better. Even if it is brilliant and the publishing house only rejected it as they thought that type of book woudn't sell, it CAN be improved.

 

How to find a publisher

Hunt for similar books and see who published them. Go to their web site to find the guidelines. Most now will tell you what kind of books they are looking for, and when and how to submit to them online.

 

What to do if they ask for changes

Mostly- obey. Editors are usually extremely good at seeing what a book needs. Authors are far too close to their work- and in love with their words and ideas- to judge.

Editors are not infallible (Except for Lisa Berryman and three others) . Often they can tell what needs to be changed, and what isn’t working, but not how to fix it. But if they find a problem, so will readers.

 

Self Publishing

I’ve never tried this. Friends have successfully. It’s a lot of work- you need to do the publishers job too, and you miss out on the editorial teamwork that can make a good book a great one. Fo more information, go to the ASA web site, as this is an area I am deeply ignorant about.

 

Can you help me make my book better?

 I'm not good at critiquing other people's work as a teacher  or editor might. My approach is to think about it for weeks, or even months - and that doesn't work with school assignments. I write rather than edit. Editing is a specialised skill, and one that also needs experience, and I don't have either, only my experience with my own work which doesn't translate into being able to re work someone else's text.

 But have a look at the writing tips on jackiefrench.com. They summarise all I know that might  help.

 

And if you are under 15….

 

Dear Jackie,

I am 10 years old and I have written my first chapter book and would like to get it published but I don't know who can publish it for me without it being too expensive. If you like, I can e-mail my story to you.

 

Dear Annie...it is VERY difficult to get your first book published! Thousands of people send their books to publishers every week.

   I have a feeling you're going to write some stunning books in years to come. But meanwhile, be patient! (I know you don't want to hear this, but it's true.). The more you work at your writing, the better it gets- just like you need to learn to be a doctor or a teacher. (talent just isn't enough).

 

     Just keep working at your writing. But don't lose your chapter book either- it's going to be valuable when  you're a famous writer. Ask your parents/teachers/ librarians for help designing a  cover on your computer at home or at the library, then 'self publish' by printing off copies to give as presents. Good luck- and keep writing!

© Jackie French