The manuscript has been written, the editing completed, and bata readers have given the thumbs up; it’s time to seriously consider publishing.
At first, turning my manuscript into a book was just a thought, a dream, but once that thought took root the desire for it to become reality was unrelenting and I found myself researching how to make it happen.
My first step was compiling a list of publishers, making sure to only include those which published in the genre I had written. Then I researched the different self-publishing companies and began comparing them for the best fit. The information I collected was overwhelming and determining which avenue to pursue was not easy. Eventually, I decided on the traditional route. I knew I was probably going to have to deal with rejection letters and such, but that was ok. To me it was a rite of passage. If the traditional form of publishing didn’t pan out, I was going to self-publish. Either way, my story was going to be published no matter what.
The first thing I learned about traditional publishing is that you just can’t send your manuscript to any publisher you choose. In fact, a lot of the major publishing companies won’t even accept anything unless you have a literary agent or are already an established author. Every publishing house is different and they each have their own set of submission guidelines which must be followed accordingly.
I devised a plan. I was going to go down my list of publishing houses and submit to each one following their guidelines. But you know what is said about the best laid plans. Somehow I heard about a new division of a large and well know publishing house requesting world-wide submissions. I started there first. While it would have been nice, I realized after submitting that what I had wasn’t exactly what they were looking for and I withdrew my submission.
I returned to my list and began the process anew. With another publisher selected, I set out to work, and the work began with the query letter. The query letter is an important piece which proposes the book idea and introduces the author. The letter is generally a page long and includes a very short description of the story, approximate word count and the genre. It also includes a short author bio, any previously published books, and writing accomplishments. The letter must be composed in a way to catch the editor’s attention within the first few lines. If not, chances are it won’t get by the first phase. As publishing companies receive a vast number of queries during a call for submissions, usually the most interesting letters are the ones selected.
With the hope that my query letter would be accepted, I began the next phase which was the short synopsis. The synopsis can be anywhere from one to three pages in length depending on the publishers’ guidelines. For me it was a daunting task. The synopsis must contain all major plot points and characters and even include the ending. It also must show the emotion and feelings of the story. In short, it must be intriguing and once again catch the editor’s eye.
Weeks went by with no automatic reply or any other e-mail from the publishing house confirming they’d received my query. As I prepared to look at the next publisher on my list, I heard about another call for submissions. Once again, I took my chances. An improved query letter and synopsis was written and marketing plan was developed. With fingers crossed they were sent out and I happily received a reply. Shortly afterward I was asked to submit the first three chapters as well as the manuscript. Finally, I was on the road to publishing.