Realizing the dream of having a publisher invest in you and your work isn’t easy. There’s a lot that that goes into it and there’s fierce competition out there. That’s why a lot of authors self-publish or go with a publishing service that requires you to pay for all or part of the costs.
In this article, I’m going to lay out 10 keys to having your book, story, opus or whatever published by someone who’s not you or who gets paid by you. There are other factors that have to be in place, but these 10 are what come to my mind as basic fundamentals to get you on the road to reaching that big, elusive goal.
By the way, I’m thinking mostly in terms of publication of a book. However, I’ll try to keep the parameters broad enough to include all publication possibilities. If I can’t, I’ll point it out.
Belief in Self
Setting out to accomplish something you’ve never done before is always a daunting task. Having confidence in your ability to make it happen is the mindset to carry you through the phases of the process. A writer isn’t necessarily writing a piece to have it published, but here we’re assuming you are. Whether it’s a poem or an epic novel, you’ll have it hanging over you that your work had better be good to have it considered for publication. Believing in yourself won’t make it so, but when you get to the point when you will sell yourself and your work, your self-esteem will be your starting point.
Willingness to Put in the Work
Yes, it’s safe to assume you need to present quality content to see it published. If you’re writing a full book-length piece, there is a lot of planning involved. Once you have an outline or a plan of some kind, then the real work begins. Even on a short essay, the heart of it is saying what you have to say and presenting it in such a way that it’s compelling to read. Whatever the volume, it takes dedication to the cause and a strong effort to write professional sentences as well as well-constructed paragraphs. When it’s done, the part comes which many writers like least. Marketing to publishers can feel almost like punishment for having brought the ship into the bay. Letters and bios and proof of a following can all enter into it. There’s a lot for a writer to confront in this process and it’s not going to happen without a full-throttle assault on your goal.
Not everyone is an award-winning, bestselling author. Some major skills are needed for that level. Yet, I’ve heard it said, “Everyone’s a writer.” Lots of us think we can shine in this medium. It’s not hard to write, but it’s not easy to excel. I feel as though we’re born with certain aptitudes. We all have our talents. Writing can be one of them and it’s definitely an ingredient that puts a writer in the game when it comes to getting published. Polishing that skill is what increases your odds. Part of the skill of writing is recognizing poor writing when you’ve put it in print. Take the time to hone your work as well as your skills.
This brings us to editing. You can’t just bang out an article, poem or post (let alone a book) without careful proofreading and editing. I’ve read many quotes by writers who say their first draft is terrible. This is apparently a mere acceptance of reality. A writer pushes to get the manuscript completed and then goes about molding it as a sculptor would rework the wet clay into beautiful shape. Personally, I edit as I go on the first draft. Each day, I read what I did in the previous writing session and make corrections. Sometimes they’re a typo or a misuse of one word, but sometimes an overhaul of an idea or a paragraph is in order. Editing yourself is important, but most recommend that on a long work a professional be used.
Unless you’re famous and/or rich, you won’t get a book deal without being a writer. And you won’t be a writer without writing…and writing…and writing. You learn how to be a publishable writer by writing. Learning your craft, fine tuning your craft–that’s what it takes. Love it. Immerse yourself in it.
Wait! There’s More!
In the next post, we’ll cover some of the tangible actions that improve your chances of having your creation chosen over the myriad that aren’t. Coming soon…Part Two.