Since my novel got published, time and again I have been asked how to get published.
So here is a simple 10 step way to getting published that I compiled from the answers I gave to the questioners.
I hope it is of help to the friends and readers who want to get published someday
- Read: While this advice may seem frivolous, many aspiring writers don’t read enough. Wanting to write without reading enough is somewhat like wanting to run without walking first. Also, when I say read, I also mean books written on the craft of writing itself. New writers, especially, should read books that can help them improve their writing. Good examples are ’70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes’ by Bob Mayer or ‘Bird by Bird’ by Anne Lamott.
- Write: While this advice may seem obvious as well as frivolous, not writing is the biggest barrier to many good writers not getting published. You may think of great plots, dream about the shape it’s going to take, talk about it to hundred people, but unless you start putting it down on paper in a disciplined way, the book will never happen. As Einstein said, genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. So is a book.
- Focus on the Readers: Many writers make the mistake of writing for themselves than writing for the readers. I did that; you may too. It’s a big mistake. Some people think writing for others amounts to selling out or something like that. That’s bullshit. If you are writing for yourself, why do you want others to read your writing, why do you want to get published? Just take your writing, frame it and hang it on your wall. Admire it forever. But if you want to get published, then you must respect the readers and write for them. Your readers can be different – you can aim to write for intellectuals like Amartya Sen or for your batch mates from your college or for a teenager who just reads trashy romance. But no matter who you write for, whenever you write, you must have that ‘who’ in the mind and write accordingly. We call such writers ‘egoless writers’ – writers who make their selves disappear while writing, keeping only the reader present.
- Imitate: Many first time writers find writing a very difficult task in their quest for originality. Originality is wonderful, but not always necessary. In fact, when writing for the first time, it may be better to imitate a writer you like than try to be original. It’s easier, gives you confidence, and lets you focus your energies on delivering to your readers a nice reading experience than on being original. Many famous writers did the same before slowly evolving a style that was truly original.
- Have a good, tension-filled beginning: For a newbie writer, it’s extremely important to have a very catchy beginning. The browsing habit of the modern customers, who have scores of new books competing for their attention, demands that the beginning must hook them in the few minutes they can spare for it. Publishers keep this fact in mind while choosing manuscripts. You must also keep this in mind while writing and give a lot of time to craft a good, tension-filled beginning
- Write, no matter what: Writing is a strenuous task, especially when you have a day job. I am an entrepreneur, so it often feels as if I have not one but two day-jobs. In such a situation, time and again, you will feel the inspiration missing – the thing called ‘writer’s block’ will threaten to overcome you. Your job is to keep writing even then, even if you feel your output is mediocre. You can revise the mediocre writing later, cut it out if need be. But keep writing
- Finish: Another mistake that’s quite common – never finishing. In trying to make the writing perfect or in waiting endlessly for an inspirational flash that would help them craft a spectacular ending, writers often take an unnecessarily long time to finish. This can sap their energy as well as make the writing process seem extraordinarily difficult, so much so they never attempt it again. Happened with a friend of mine. Don’t let it happen to you.
- Make a proposal 3 Months in Advance: All publishing companies follow similar steps before accepting a manuscript for publishing. The first step is to submit to them a proposal that usually consists of at a minimum a plot synopsis, three chapters and a brief profile of the author. The evaluation process normally takes 2-4 months. So about 3 months before you are sure you will finish the book, approach the publishing companies with the synopsis and the first three chapters along with your bio. As I said previously, the first three chapters better be marvelous.
- Be patient: Getting published can be a difficult ball game. Though it’s easier these days, especially if write a campus story, you still require lot of patience to get through the whole cycle. Try submitting your proposal to as many publishers as possible, and take rejections, if any, in a stride.
- Use Your Waiting Time Well: If you are waiting for publishers to respond even after you have finished, don’t waste your time fretting. My advice is to start another book. Keep you mind occupied. Avoid negative thoughts.
- Respect the publisher: If you are lucky enough to get a publisher, respect them. They have been in the business for years, maybe even before you were born, and are likely to know the best way to go about things. Certainly better than you. If they ask for changes to the manuscript, try doing it without fuss. If they suggest a cover, take the suggestion. Respond promptly and make sure the partnership trudges along well.
- Market Your Book: In these days of endless marketing and publicity, rarely a book can stand on the strength of its own merit in the overly crowded marketplace of attention. You must give a lot of time to the marketing of your book and spend some money too if you want it to succeed.