Sunday, January 4, 2009

How to GET Published--and when to do it!

Here is a tough one for you to accept; getting published should be somewhere down about the middle of your to do list!

It is always interesting to me to hear the excuses some potential authors give because they cannot seem get their work accepted by a publisher. They are always griping that they are getting rejection slips to every query letter they send. If I ask them why they think that is, the usual answer I get is, "I don't know." That, I tell them, is one of their biggest problems! They don't know!

"Whadda ya mean by that?" is the usual response to that statement. "Look," I would tell them, "have you ever considered the possibility that you have never taken the time to learn what is necessary to know if you are serious about getting your work published?" Unfortunately, to these people, that question is a rhetorical one because it is obvious they have not.

For most people becoming a published author infers an obligation upon the would be author, like any other field of endeavor, to know or learn what is necessary to play in that ballpark. Simple analogy; if you want to become a medical doctor you have to go to medical school.

Well, if you want to be a published author you have to be able to do more than put the words on a page to write a book and get it published! You must educate yourself to the requirements in the field.

First and foremost, you must learn to write a query letter in a manner that will make those overworked editors in the publishing houses perk up their eyes and want to continue reading. There is so much free information available on the net or in your local library about this subject that there is no excuse for anyone not to be able to learn to do it.

Along with this is being able to present your synopsis of your work. This is crucial if you want that editor to keep reading. He or she must see within the first few sentences that they will want to know more about your story. It must be concise, informative, and compelling. Again, the information a writer would need to learn how to do this is freely available on the net or in your local library.

Another item for this phase is the authors resume. This is something that should never, ever, be hyped--keep it factual. It's okay to emphasize any kudos you may have attained along the way, just don't overdo it.

If you get past this point and get a request for a sample of your material, you had better know how to edit. Unless your work is so unique that you capture the editors attention and imagination immediately, your work will very shortly be returned to you; that is if you included a postage paid return envelope.

Editing is not a one time thing--it is a process! It is something you can learn to do, or it is something you may have to pay to have done in a manner that will be acceptable to most publishers. Don't get me wrong on this aspect of writing. Most authors are generally not good editors of their work. But they can learn to get it to the point where a publisher will be willing to polish it up for publication. And again, there is ample information freely available to establish in the author a working knowledge of what is necessary to do a moderately good job of editing their work to the point of acceptability.

Then there is the homework factor the author must perform for his/her own basic knowledge of the publishing industry. Learning what the submission procedures are for the different publishing houses--learning which publishers prefer what genres. Learning which publishers are more prone to accept new authors, etc, etc. Doing your homework will always put you several steps ahead of those too lazy to do so.

Now we come to one of the parts of getting published that is one of the most overlooked aspects. NETWORKING! This Website is a great example of the potential help available to new authors, and some old ones too. I'm an old fart with a young mind, but I do have an advantage in this area. I have been in business for most of my adult working life, and have gained a real understanding of the value of networking with those who know the things I don't, and are willing to share their knowledge with me.

Most published authors are, usually, more than willing to share their experience and knowledge with those who are following them on the writers path. Most will do so willingly for those who show they are truly willing to learn. Networking provides a treasure trove of knowledge and insight for those willing to show that they can be deserving of it.

Now to the publisher?

Not quite yet. I would recommend that the best policy a new writer could establish for themselves is to have your work completed and as polished as possible. In addition, the author should have done enough homework along the way so they will be able to present their work in its best light, and to the best venue.

To those reading this. I have, of necessity, condensed a great deal of what I might have liked to say on the subject, but have covered the basics adequately. Your comments are, as always, welcome.

Contributing Author; J. A. DiSpada
Author, The Earth-Chai Saga – Book one – Waking The Dragon
Published – May, 2007
ISBN10: 14241527 55
ISBN13: 978-14241527 59
Awards - New Book Reviews .Org ‘Best New Book 2007’
Visit J.A.'s Web Page at
Member – A Book Inside Forum at

Learn more about the writing and publishing maze by reading A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story available at Author’s Box or

Please leave your comments for J. A. DiSpada below.


L. Diane Wolfe said...

All good tips for those ultimately seeking a publishing house!

I tell writers to go one further on the editing - hire a professional even before sending off your work! I've heard enough publishers and many big authors say that is a MUST in this day in age. With so much competition out there, a writer must stand out from the masses, and submitting work that has already been run through a book editor will catch their attention.

Of course, one has to do all of the other things right and be submitting quality, marketable material!

Good tips!

Jack Payne said...

Good tips for the novice. At one time or another I have pursued every angle. Had agents trotting up and down the N.Y, publishing aisles with my manuscripts. Have had one best-seller (only 1 out of 56 books). Have had 7,000,.000words in print. Have kissed rings, done head stands, and jumped through hoops to gain the attention of the N.Y.C. publishing elite. Have even self-published. And, as an entrepreneur, have started 6 publishing companies, ran a book division for a major multi-magazine publishing company, and ran 3 publishing companies of my own simultaneously.

Now I'm tired, and, at age 82, I like to just sit back and watch how others are instructed to proceed.

You've got some good, steady, tried and true advice.

Sheila Deeth said...

Good tips, but scary. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Yes it's scary, but good challenges are ALWAYS scary. Your blog is one of the best. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

These tips are like a GPS for authors. Thanks!

Patricia Rockwell said...

Thanks for the great tips! I'm new at this. When you send a query letter and are asked to send a copy of the manuscript, how LONG should you wait (typically) for a response? You aren't supposed to send out any more queries during the waiting period, right?

Anonymous said...

Hi Patricia,
It's always good if a publisher requests your script. I would give them at least 3 months to respond. After that, I feel you are entitled to call them!
In your situation, I would refrain from submitting to others for that 3 month period.
Sounds like they are interested--good luck, I'll be wishing for your success!!!
Carol Denbow

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carol said...

I would like to thank J.A. for this informative post and all the users who left comments.
Many thanks!!

Unknown said...

I would like to personally thank all who took the time to read this blog post, and comment on it.
I have more to say, and I will, but am very busy right now finishing the second book in the Earth-Chai saga, Whispering Into The Dragons Ear. Lots and lots of editing to do!
Happy New Year
And remember, The best way to start writing a book is to start writing.
PS. Special thanks to Carol Denbow for making A Book Inside Forum available to us.
J. A. D.

Kathryn Magendie said...

and dreams do come true. Patience, perseverance, stubborn tenacity, and lots of hard work, and a little luck helps, too.


Great information! I recently got a literary agent who has presented my book to publishers about 5 weeks ago–now I wait. Two questions! Do publishers normally accept self-published books that have sold quite a few copies? There is allot of talk about "platform", can you tell me what that means? Christine of