5 Things I Wish I Knew About Publishing
(Before I Was Published)
I’ve spent years teaching classes on
how to get published and have helped numerous people get their books in the
hands of publishers so when I was asked recently what I wish I’d known about
the topic before my first book was published a flood of answers came to mind.
Here are five of them:
- The importance of a good writer’s biography. It doesn’t matter if your first publication was in the local newspaper, you can’t get enough experience writing and your work needs to be neatly presented to prospective publishers like a professional resume. If you’ve done editing as part of your job as a secretary, write it down. If you’ve written newsletters or articles for your job, write that experience down as well. Many of us started out writing for free (or for pennies on the dollar), but experience is experience whether or not your paid, so write it down and keep track of it. Make sure you have someone else with an eye for detail read through it for sentence structure and spelling; nothing’s worse than misspellings or poor grammar when you’re trying to catch the eye of an acquisitions editor.
2. Editors are worth their weight in gold. I hate to dish out a few hundred dollars before I have a publishing deal for editing, but I’m always grateful I did it after I see the changes that have been made. There are literally hundreds of editors looking for work and those who are just starting out generally cost less. Generally you pay by the page or hour. How do you know who to hire? Ask what they’ve edited previously and if it hasn’t been much, hire them on a per page basis at first and give them a chapter of your book to see how thorough and detailed they are with your work and if you like their style. My favorite editors are the ones who keep my personality intact while suggesting necessary changes.
3. Networking is underrated. Don’t underestimate the power of meeting publishers and acquisitions editors at conferences, retreats, and other such activities. Introduce yourself and ask them if you can send them over a proposal for consideration. Get their business cards and write on the back when and where you met them, then give them one of yours with the same information on the back. Then, when you’re ready to send them a proposal for a book you can remind them that you’ve met and received prior permission to send over a proposal for consideration.
4. Agents aren’t required. There are both pro’s and con’s to agents and there are more and more acquisitions editors who only accept proposals from them, but the majority will still accept them if they know you or you’ve had work published in the past. I have no problem cold-calling editors, introducing myself and letting them know I’ve written over a dozen books. Rarely have I been turned away. I started my career ghostwriting for a psychologist (my education is in counseling) and I recently noticed there are a lot of freelance writing companies looking for writers. Some of the top companies are Elance, Upwork, Toptal and Freelancer.
5. Details are crucial for both fiction and non-fiction. Research shows the typical reader only gets through the first 40 pages of a book before they put it down for good. Why? Because it doesn’t keep their attention. The best way to keep a reader enthralled is by painting the picture you have in your mind in theirs through details and the five senses. Have you hit a flat spot in your novel? Go back and make sure the reader’s senses are all being tickled and they won’t be able to put the book down.
I know I said I'd give you five pieces of information, but here's a bonus:
There are over 750,000 books published per year; make yours stand out by learning how to market your brand. The best book on the topic in my humble opinion is Michael Hyatt’s Platform, Get Noticed in a Noisy World. It’s a step-by-step guide for anyone with something to say or sell. Find out more at michaelhyatt.com (No, I don't know Michael, I just love the book!)
Leslie Montgomery is the author and ghostwriter of over a dozen books. She has interviewed hundreds of leaders throughout the world including sitting presidents and is most noted for the spiritual biography, The Faith of Condoleezza Rice. Leslie lives in Boise, Idaho with her three children and yellow lab, Bailey. www.lesliemontgomery.org