self publishing

The 5 Don’ts to be a Successfully Published Author

As cryptic as the title sounds, there are a few things that can really turn the tide against your dreams of becoming a published writer. So, I am going to tell you about the 5 things NOT TO DO if you want your book published. These 5 DON’TS are not meant to discourage, these are the most common traps that the writer ignores and walks right into.

For the purpose of this post I am only considering fiction, that is, novels and short novels.

No.1: Do not start the BOOK PUBLISHING search before you complete your book

Doesn’t make sense? Getting published takes 12 – 18 months. Am I not better off starting right away, while I am midway through writing my book?

The answer is NO.

The process of getting your book published in print and into a bookstore takes 12 – 18 months, the process of manuscript evaluation and acceptance takes 6 – 8 months only. So, unless you are absolutely sure that your manuscript will be complete before some book publisher who has liked your proposal demands it, do not start the process. Nothing is worse than getting a book publisher interested only to ask him to wait a little while longer for your book.

Also the 3 – 4 months of idle waiting can be the best time to revise and relook at your book. If J.K. Rowling felt the need to rework a chapter five times, it’s safe to assume that some objective editing will benefit your work.

No. 2: Don’t skimp on the steps in the BOOK PUBLISHING APPLICATION PROCESS

Research the appropriate book publishers for your work

If the book publisher you look up has not published a horror novel in the last year or so then there could be two possibilities:

The publisher didn’t get a horror novel submission and is desperately waiting for one. Hurray!

Or, the more likely scenario

The publisher doesn’t sell horror books for whatever reason and will most likely not be swayed.

A lot of research needs to be done, thankfully with the internet that is not a problem.

Send a book publishing query letter

If the book publisher mentions that they do not entertain unsolicited submissions the only way to approach is by a query letter, no more than a page long, double spaced and preferably in PDF to ensure that your document is not scrambled when it reaches the acquisitions editor.

Send the book publishing proposal

If the book publisher does not specifically forbid unsolicited book submissions then you can start the process with a book publishing proposal. Some book publishers have a specific format; ensure that you stick to the format.

Wait, and wait some more.

Most book publishers will tell you not to bother them regarding the progress of your book proposal evaluation while others will tell you to sit still for 3 to 6 months before sending a polite reminder. The operative word is, you guessed it: POLITE.

Remember, you haven’t submitted your manuscript yet, all this is before your work is even considered fit for an overall evaluation.

No.3: Don’t jump into SELF PUBLISHING just yet.

Typically, writers who get frustrated by rejections often look to self publishing for satisfaction. I get the angst, I don’t get the logic. In traditional book publishing you will probably be snubbed and rejected by the book publisher, in self publishing you get snubbed and rejected by the reader.

Of course every self publishing company and every self published author will tell you that it’s the same thing whether you are published or self published. It’s not.

With self publishing you will hold your book in your hands, but that’s where it stops. Unless you’re willing to take the initiative and expend effort into marketing and promoting your self published book, you will be stuck with a book and not much else.

Some authors have a flair for entrepreneurship and they will succeed more than others in the self-publishing game. Self publishing is also self marketing, if you are game to spend as much time on marketing and publicity as you spend writing, self publishing might just work for you.

No.4: Once you get your manuscript in, DO NOT FIGHT THE BOOK PUBLISHER

A deal with a traditional book publisher means the book publisher is in control, it’s not necessarily a bad thing (in self publishing you are in control and that isn’t necessarily a good thing). Yet, all too often writers fret and fume about the book publisher deciding the cover, the design, the format, the price, and even the title. Just because it’s your body you wouldn’t fight with the doctor over which medicines work best for you, would you? Let’s accept the reality here: a book publisher is putting his money and risking his revenues and profits on your work, sabotaging your book is the last thing on his mind. At most book publishing houses even though one book editor communicates with you, the decisions are taken by many. Trust the guys who know the deal.

No.5: Don’t rely on the INCOME FROM BOOK WRITING, at least not initially

How can depending on income from book writing hurt your chances at book publishing? The desperation shows and can put off the most interested of book publishers, a lot of book writers get edgy about delays in payment and that can strain negotiations.

If you have an unpaid bill and you have sent out a query letter hoping to get the advance before the bill is due, you might want to consider some other option. Dig into your savings or write to rich aunt Mary, that’s the kind of writing that gets you money.

Book Writing is a highly rewarding career, it is financially rewarding too but to expect a windfall is taking things a tad too far. On the royalties from one book you can barely sustain yourself for more than a few months. So, until you have written your third or fourth book and have a rough idea about the money you make, don’t go barging into the boss’s cabin, resignation letter in hand.

Having said all this, there is just one more thing I’d like to add. It’s a great joy being a craftsman, someone who takes simple and random words and strings them into stories that enthral and entertain generations. It’s creative, it’s hard work, and it requires a certain smartness. The above list is just to help you along with the smartness.

Happy Writing

Anirban S. Bose

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