Rhonda Bowen is a guest blogger for The Word On The Street. This is the second post of her monthly, guest column exploring her road to becoming a published author. Click here to read her first post. Are you interested in being a guest blogger for The Word On The Street? Pitch us your ideas by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m Finished. Now What?
Getting to the end of a book is usually satisfying. For the writer, the feeling of completing a manuscript is even more satisfying. But now that you’ve done it, now that you’re sitting there with this 87 000 word long document, you must be asking yourself, what next?
If the spotlight is what you seek then it’s time to get published. There are many ways to go about this. You can query a publisher directly through their submissions process; you can get a literary agent who will pitch to publishers for you; or you can pitch directly to an acquisitions editor at an event. There is also the option of self-publishing.
No matter what option you choose, your first step will be the same: Research. It is important to have some basic knowledge about how the publishing industry works before you go diving into it. Groups like the Canadian Writers Association, magazines like Quill and Quire and events like The Word on The Street Festival are great places to start.
So if you are sitting at home with a completed manuscript and wondering what to do next, here are some tips:
- Figure out the genre of the book you have written and compile a list of companies that are publishing books in that genre. These are the companies that are most likely to be interested in your work. Don’t be afraid to look overseas.
- Research your potential publishers. How many books in that genre do they put out a year? Are their writers new or established? Who are the editors at this publisher, especially the ones who work with your genre?
- Research submission guidelines. Does the publisher accept manuscripts directly from authors or do you need to have an agent? What do you need to send in your query package and to whom? It is essential that you give the publisher exactly what they are asking for. If they want a synopsis and first chapter sent to editor A, don’t send your whole manuscript to editors A, B and C. You and your work will just end up in the junk mail.
- Don’t be afraid to query several publishers and agents. It often takes weeks or months for an editor or literary agent to get through all the queries they receive. Don’t wait to hear from one before you pitch to others.
- Keep writing while you’re waiting. It took me months to hear from my publisher after I submitted my query. And after they requested my manuscript, another couple months before I got an offer. This is not at all unusual. While you wait for the responses from the queries you sent out, start working on your next idea. Publishers are generally not looking for one-book authors. They are looking for writers they can invest in. So keep writing.
- Remember to celebrate. You just completed your first full length manuscript. Whether or not you ever get published that is something to be proud of. So take a moment to pat yourself on the back. Good work!