Published Author, Professional Storyteller & Writer, and Educator
Published Author, Professional Storyteller & Writer, and Educator
Published Author, Professional Storyteller & Writer, and Educator

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Playing the Publishing Game

If you are writing a book, or perhaps already written one, you wonder, "Now what? Where do I go from here?"

The obvious answer is you seek publication, and that is harder than one might think. Several pre-publication steps are listed here.

  • Make sure your manuscript is perfect - double-spaced, proper margins, font, size print, paragraph structure, spelling, grammar, and information.
  • Is your manuscript properly formatted? Your name and contact information should be single spaced at the top left-hand corner, and the word count on the right-hand side. Title and by-line should be centered.
  • If all of the above are in order (and meet the standards of the publisher) the next step is to research submission guidelines of possible publishers - what they are looking for, how they want you to submit your work.
  • Draft a query letter, if this is what the publisher wants first. The query should be brief, telling in a few words the title, word count, and targeted audience, as well as a short synopsis. Hook the publisher so he/she will request the manuscript to read.
  • Draft a cover letter to go with the manuscript. The cover letter is similar to the query in that it provides the title, word count, targeted audience, and brief synopsis. For both the query and cover letters, be sure to have your contact information (name, address, phone, email, website). And for both query and cover letters, be concise and informal, but not overly so.
  • Begin your manuscript about 1/3 of the way down the page - indent each paragraph, with double spacing between lines.
  • At the end of your piece, mark END in the center of the page - this lets the editor know there is no more work to read.
  • Insert a header and page numbers, beginning on page 2. Header (title of work in caps/your last name with initial cap) on the left side; page numbers on the right.
  • Now send your submission (with what is required) to the publisher as per directions - e-mail or traditional mail. If requested, enclose a SASE for a response.

Now you wait for their response. In some cases, you will not hear from them unless they are interested, and in some cases, you might not hear from them for several months. Be patient! If you have not heard from them in a reasonable length of time, you can assume they are not interested. Now is the time to move on.

If they are interested, you will receive a contract, which you must read carefully. Question anything you do not understand, request items you feel should have been included. Do not sign anything until you agree with all the terms. Then the editorial process begins at which time you get to read the proofs and add (or subtract) text. This will be your one and only chance to make your manuscript ready for print.

Once the publisher starts the printing process, you wait once again. Hopefully you will receive a courtesy copy, and obtain additional copies at an author's discount. (These should be part of the contractual agreement.)

Although the publisher usually has a marketing and promotional staff, most publishers require your help. Toot your own horn - tell the world that your book is available, where they can get it, and what its cost is. Have bookmarks made to hand out and flyers to post on bulletin boards. Send out e-mail blasts to your social media contacts and address book members. Be available to make author talks in bookstores, schools (if appropriate), organizations, book clubs etc. Arrange for press releases, and interviews on radio and TV. In other words, take advantage of every opportunity to tell others about your book. And if possible, take your book with you wherever you go to show everyone you meet - and take orders or sell from your trunk!

After this book is launched, you are ready to write another - and then another! Keep on writing. Persevere and don't give up! You may not get rich, but you will surely feel good about yourself.

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