Many aspiring authors sit down and pen some words. They finish their grand ode’ to their aspirations and think, “Ok, now let’s throw this at the wall of publishers and see what sticks.”
Angry Eagle Publishing has been guilty of looking at these in hopes of finding a new voice and a desire to help authors, but it’s a double-edged sword. Sometimes, we find good stuff, but most often, we see a lack of understanding about the publishing world.
There are steps to publication no matter how you as an author choose to do it. Traditional (big) publishers, small press publishers, and self-publishing all have similar steps BEFORE you get to the final book.
There are misconceptions about how it all works in this new world of publishing and it sometimes shows so we wanted to highlight what the aspiring author needs to know before they start tossing their book at the wall.
There are steps you must take with that precious book of yours before you even consider letting a publisher or the world see it.
The days of throwing it at the wall have never been good days, and we hope you will find value in finding the right publishing path for you using the steps to prepare your manuscript for publication.
Prepare the manuscript – What does that mean? Exactly what it says, you must make it ready for eyes. How do you do this?
Finish the manuscript – Publishers must know you are ready to show them your work. Although not entirely unheard of, publishers and agents will rarely take a chance on the idea of a book, especially for a debut author. They want to see not only that you have a great idea but that you have properly executed it. This means that before submitting a manuscript, query letter, or book proposal, you must be ready to hit send on the complete manuscript.
Polish the manuscript – This is a step often ignored by new authors, thinking it is the publisher’s job to clean up any messes. This way of thinking could not be further from the truth. As an author, you have one chance to impress an agent or an editor. So make sure you are submitting your best work. Join critique groups, hire an editor, or get beta readers to test your manuscript and ensure the story is as tight as possible. Then, bring on a copy editor to ensure there are no lingering typos. A messy manuscript shows an author who lacks attention to detail, and that’s not something any editor or agent wants to deal with.
Format the manuscript – What? Format it? Manuscript submissions follow particular guidelines, and agents and publishers need to know you are paying attention. Ensure your manuscript is properly formatted and ready to deliver to anyone who requests it. Handing in a hodge podge of different text and line spacing styles looks like a giant messy burger to literary eyes. Check guidelines and follow them.
Research agents and publishers – Look at what they are looking for and find out if they are accepting un-agented manuscripts and their guidelines for submission. One of the biggest annoyances to the publishing industry is submissions from authors whose books don’t fit what the publisher is looking for. Or worse, it doesn’t fit what the company is publishing! Getting submissions that could never be accepted is a waste of the acquisitions editor’s time and the author’s time as well! To effectively submit a manuscript to a publisher or agent, you need to target people who want your book. And that means understanding the market and the people working in it.
Check acknowledgments pages
Read trade periodicals
Research publishing companies
Network within your genre – Another way to understand your demographics is to network. Too often, authors think again, toss it at the wall, and see what sticks. It’s one thing to know who to submit a manuscript to, but another thing to make the connections necessary. Get to know other writers in your field. Join writers’ workshops to learn more about what’s happening in your genre and get tips and tricks to attract readers.
Understand what a Marketing Plan is – One of the things a publisher wants is to know the author understands their role in the sales of their books. Most, if not ALL, will ask for a marketing plan and comp titles. This means titles that are comparable to the one you are submitting. Not what you’d hope to match in sales. You surely would not compare a Harry Potter book to yours if you wrote a contemporary love story. Your publisher will market you according to the marketability of your book. A new first-time author without a proven track record will not get the same budget as an established author actively marketing their books. As the author, you must take responsibility for your work’s sales seriously. If you do not, why would the publisher?
Send query letters – Be professional in dealing with the publishers and agents; your query letter might take a little while even to be acknowledged. Patience is king here.
Submit your manuscript – Clean, edited, formatted to publisher specifications, and do not change your mind Like a small child deciding to take back your toy because you need to eye a scene.
If by some chance you make it through…
There is nothing worse than a prima donna in the publishing industry. Understand that you are not the only one submitting requests for publication, and it can sometimes take a little while to get the ball rolling. Once accepted, there is work to be done by the publisher, and their team. Do not throw in monkey wrenches, make unrequested changes, or create extra work for them. A done deal is just that… DONE. Again, patience is key. Do not expect them to hop on your every request, be respectful of their time and act professionally and your publisher will treat you like the professional author that you are.