Ten Tips To Publication

Posted at 00:03am on 17th May 2010

Written The Book, Can’t Get It Published? This was the question posed on a LinkedIn forum in which I participate. In an attempt to help aspiring authors trying to find publication, I began my response by saying that, in my opinion, it's much more difficult to find a publisher for fiction than for non-fiction.

However, although much of what I have to say pertains to non-fiction, I hope it will be of help to those who have a novel awaiting publication. I’m aware, as I write it, that it may sound as if I’m 'tooting my own horn', but I can only tell you what worked for me.

  1. Become an ‘expert’ in your subject.
  2. Make your research work for you.
  3. Write articles on topics related to your book.
  4. Submit them to magazines.
  5. Bring anecdotal material – your own experience or that of others – into your books and articles.
  6. Learn where the gaps are in the book market.
  7. Learn how to write killer book proposals.
  8. Don't ignore the real world in favour of cyberspace. Write to the letters’ page in both the national and local press; ring in to radio shows whenever possible.
  9. Offer yourself as a speaker to Probus, Rotary Clubs, schools, Mothers’ Union – whatever is most closely allied to what you’re trying to establish as your field of expertise.
  10. Be humble and accept that only hard work and perseverance will help with publication of your novel; be hopeful and never, ever stop believing that you can achieve your dream.

BECOME AN EXPERT: USE YOUR RESEARCH

My suggestion is that you become an 'expert' in the subject matter of your novel. I don't mean by being duplicitous, but by making the research that you've done for your novel work overtime.

WRITE TOPICAL ARTICLES FOR MAGAZINES

My earliest books - all published by mainstream publishers - were on social issues: divorce, remarriage and so on. I backed them up with copious articles on related matters – debt management as a single parent, for instance – and submitted them to magazines, where they were duly published.

USE YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE

If you have personal experience to bring to your writing, so much the better. If not, do what I did with my stepfamily book, and interview families with stories to tell, ensuring that you write up the topic from all sides.

ADDRESS MARKET GAPS IN YOUR BOOK PROPOSAL

There was a real need for this sort of book, at the time. Look for the gaps in the market, and learn how to write a good book proposal. There’s plenty of advice around on this topic, including my own: Manuscript Submission Guidelines: How To Write A Publishing Proposal For Your Book.

GET YOUR NAME & INTERESTS WIDELY KNOWN

In this way, I began to become known – not only to my readers but, more importantly, to publishers. By the time I had four books published, and numerous articles, publishers were seeking me out and giving me commissions. Regional TV programmes and national radio stations began giving me air time – interviews, chat-shows, phone-ins. Eventually – for a short time - I had a Regent Street agent, whom I shared with Mary Wesley. Speaking engagements took me far and wide, often back to back, averaging one a fortnight.

TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING OR POD?

My bestseller – No. 4 in The Sunday Times – came shortly before I had to give up writing altogether. By the time I began again, more than a decade later, my editors had retired or moved on, and my publishers had found new authors to promote. Consequently, I am in the same situation as many of you: agentless; trying to build a platform; blogging; glad of any BBC work I can pick up; childishly gratified that they have approached me.

In many ways it’s harder now than it was ‘back then’. In others, it’s easier. Without turning my back on traditional publishing, I’ve embraced POD. I’m humble enough to accept that one bestseller doth not a bestselling author make; hopeful enough to believe that I may one day write another.

And that's what I'd say to you. Put all or some of the ten tips into practice; persevere and publication - in one form or another - will almost certainly come to you. What publishers want to see is stamina; commitment; and inspiration.

Read on for further articles on Writing & Publishing A Book

Author of a number of books, one a Sunday Times No 4 Bestseller, Mel Menzies is also an experienced Speaker at live events, as well as on Radio and TV. Book her here for your event.

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