But what are we doing to make that a reality?
The process we follow to try get our story out there is similar for everybody:
- Submit / Self-publish
There’s also complementary action you can take, e.g. you might join a workshop group or retain an editor to help with the revision process, or go back to school or participate in a course to improve your writing, or try secure an agent to help you get published. But, in the end, we’re left with writing our manuscript, revising our manuscript, and submitting our manuscript or self-publishing.
Let’s look at the steps.
This should go without saying. You need a manuscript before you can submit it. Don’t be a writer who only ever talks about writing, and never actually writes. Sit down and write. Write daily – even in small chunks, if that’s all you can afford. But do it.
Revise! Revise! Revise
Don’t believe for a second that your first draft is flawless. It’s not. Revise. And revise. And revise. Get it the best it can be. A raw manuscript can take you only so far. It’s not going to convince your reader to overlook issues in your writing that might’ve been addressed through some diligent revision.
Submit / Self-publish
Let’s break this down further …
Nothing regenerates the stigma around self-publishing more than a crudely constructed book – one whose layout is amateur and editing non-existent. Traditional publishers have set the standard in terms of presentation. If you’re not meeting that standard, why are readers going to treat your book with respect?
Self-publishing is a valid alternative, but if it’s something you’re going to do, please, please, please, do it right. Examine the way books look – especially any books similar to yours. Make sure your prose is crisp and clean. Think about any criticisms that might come up later – queries about formatting, paper stock, structure, and copy – and address them now. Eliminate them now. You want the reader to lose themselves in your story, not in queries about the book’s production.
So you submit and a traditional publisher wants to pick you up.
However, make sure the deal is right. This doesn’t mean becoming a diva and making unrealistic demands, or even trying to squeeze everything you can out of them. Most publishers will be fair – or at least as fair as their own budgets allow. But contracts can have idiosyncrasies.
Obviously, you want to get published. But don’t let acceptance blind you. Make sure the deal is fair for you.
Regardless of the course, in the end it’s about diligence.
Don’t be half-arsed in taking your journey.