I finished my first full book a couple of months ago and am in the stage where I am waiting for publishers to respond to my submissions. Although previously published in a peer-reviewed textbook on resilience, the editors coordinated that book so I was spared involvement in the publishing aspects.
So learning the steps necessary to find a publisher were more work than writing the book was a surprise. I have chosen to go with traditional publishing. The reasons are my own so I will leave it there for this article.
I am the type of person who researches things to understand them. As I researched how to be published, I learned much I wish I had known before I wrote the book.
Naively, before writing the book, I thought I could submit the same manuscript to numerous publishers and then just wait to see what happened. I felt thankful that I teach people how to develop and maintain a positive outlook, because the waiting would be far more stressful without those skills.
I imagined finishing the book, emailing or sending copies to several publishers whose books I often read, and then focusing on other things. The process is nothing like my expectations. I hope to make the process easier for other writers by sharing my experiences.
The good news is that the high rate of manuscript rejection comes as a result of not being aware of or following the guidelines I describe below.
The first “Aha” moment came when I learned there are a variety of style manuals. I did not even know what a style manual was before I completed my book. A style manual contains the rules for a specific writing style. The first publisher I wanted to submit my manuscript to required compliance with the Chicago Manual of Style, a tome of almost 1,000 pages. Style manuals vary greatly in their requirements.
Tip # 1
If you have a specific publisher in mind for your book, check their submission requirement for specific style manual specifications. Understanding the requirements while you are writing the book will save time later.
The second insight came when many of the publishers wanted a marketing plan. They wanted detailed plans demonstrating how I would promote my book if they published it. I am lucky in this regard because my book is tied to my full time occupation, so devoting significant time to promotion will be easy for me. This is not the case for many writers. Perusing hundreds of publisher websites made it clear publishers prefer work from writers with an established network. This makes sense. It lowers the risk a publisher will be left with hundreds, or thousands, of unsold copies.
Tip # 2
Think about your marketing plan ahead of time. If you do not have a network, build one as you write the book. Use social media and personal networking to create a platform to launch your book. Ideas will come to you if you use an affirmation such as, “I am open to inspired ideas about how to make my book be successful.”
Tip # 3
I was amazed, inspired, and delighted as I read the submission requirements of various publishers. It made me wish I had read them before I wrote the book. Doing so might have helped me as I wrote the book. It would have been easy to incorporate some of the things I read about to make the book more attractive to both a wider spectrum of publishers and readers.
Some publishers do not want the entire manuscript submitted. They want only the first 50 pages or the first three chapters and an outline of the entire book. I did not write my book from an outline. This book was an inspired outpouring so I had to create an outline after the fact.
Tip # 4
Create an outline ahead of time or, if your book is just flowing out of you as mine did, create one as you go along when everything is fresh in your mind. It will be easier. It will also help you see if there are gaps in the book.
A UK publisher appealed greatly to me and thinking both countries (I am in the USA) speak English, I did not consider the matter further until it dawned on me, that especially in writing, UK and US English are two separate languages. I wanted the UK publisher enough that I converted the manuscript to UK English-a considerably more time-consuming process than I had imagined.
Tip # 5
Think long and hard about making the decision to submit to a foreign publisher. If your book is successful in your native country, the publisher will convert it for you.
As I read submission requirements, I found many publishers who wanted to see an outline before the book was written. Some of them have specific topics they want covered and their own ideas about how to approach the topic. In addition to the manuscript that is being reviewed by perspective publishers, I have several non-fiction books in various stages of completion. Tip # 6 is my next step with those books.
Tip # 6
Especially in the non-fiction genre, look at the submission requirements before writing your manuscript. You may be able to tailor a topic you want to write about to fit the framework a publisher is looking for before you write more than an outline.
While writing my book I unplugged from the world. I set self-imposed deadlines and focused exclusively on my goal. This was effective in allowing me to finish the project but it cut me off from a lot of help I did not even know was available.
During the final editing stage, one of the editors of the textbook we collaborated on last year contacted me to work on another book. In response to my hurried missive that I was on a deadline, he wrote back letting me know he would be happy to help with the process. I was five days away from my deadline and did not think he meant he would drop everything to help with a moment’s notice so I missed out on a potentially great resource. While catching up with a friend shortly after the editing stage, she shared with me that she has a group of friends who enjoy looking at new works and providing feedback. It is now clear that unplugging separated me from help that would have been beneficial.
Tip # 7
While taking responsibility for yourself is good, an attitude that you are all alone without help does not serve you. I know both sources would have provided me with much appreciated assistance and derived pleasure by helping. I will not unplug so fully again. I may unplug five days a week and give myself the freedom to socialize two days a week.
I found one very helpful resource for finding potential publishers, a website by Brian Grove. He lists traditional publishers by category and provides links to their sites. Several books also aid with the process, such as Writer’s Market, but I prefer the internet because the information is timely. The benefit of the books is they are more comprehensive.
My final advice is to have fun. Writing a book is a rewarding process and a learning experience. As much as I learned with my first full book, I am sure I will learn more as I begin working with the publisher and on future books.
Best of luck to you. You can do it, if you believe you can.
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About Jeanine Joy
Jeanine Joy is an inspiring and life-changing author, speaker, and scholar. The purpose of her life is to seek out knowledge that increases human thriving and share it. Her programs, books, and speeches inspire and empower people to fulfill their dreams and enjoy more loving, happy, and successful lives. Her interest in understanding why some people thrive and others flounder led her to a deep understanding of the answers. She then built bridges that enable people from many backgrounds to thrive more. Whether an individual prefers new knowledge to have a scientific, religious, or spiritual foundation, she has built bridges that will help them thrive more. This integrative approach has proven enormously successful. Profound changes are common for her students. Jeanine’s studies have encompassed many scientific disciplines and philosophies, including advanced research in philosophy, positive psychology, sociology, quantum physics, and other sciences as they relate to what cultivates human thriving. She has woven the science together with wisdom from the great minds throughout history, spiritual and religious teachings to find the root cause of human thriving. Her burning passion to find answers that will help others thrive has created a depth and breadth of knowledge for accelerating human thriving beyond common psychology practices and theory, where the focus continues to emphasize what can go wrong. Whether someone is living a relatively happy life, or living in the depths of depression, her knowledge can help them thrive more. Jeanine had decades of successful corporate experience in the investment, insurance, trust, banking, and asset management industries where she developed expertise in strategic planning, performance management, compliance, and employee training and motivation. Jeanine has an excellent educational background with a B.S. in Business Administration with honors, Certified Fiduciary Investment Risk Specialist with honors, Associate Insurance Regulatory Compliance with honors, Fellow, Life Management Institute, and Certified Happiness Coach. She is a lifelong learner with keen analytical skills. Jeanine loves helping individuals gain knowledge that helps them thrive more and facilitates developing inner and outer peace. She believes a better world is possible for all with knowledge available today. Spreading that knowledge invigorates her.