How to Get Published

So ya think you want to get published, do you? And you’re wondering if you’re good enough.

I’ve been published eight times. Also, I’ve been editing professionally for a publisher that puts out books in all genres. I’ve seen raw manuscripts, and take it from me, many of them leave a lot to be desired.

How do you get published? Here’s the answer:

1. Write well.

2. Tell a good story.

Kind of a letdown, huh? You were expecting me to give you some long, convoluted answer about only submitting during a certain phase of the moon after you’d sacrificed ten black-backed beetles in a particular forest glade while one squirrel and four crows observed… Uh, no. The answer is simple.

Getting published comes down to those two things. Write well and tell a good story. That is all it takes to get published. That wasn’t the case back in the day of big house publishers like Random House et al; they were really fussy about the manuscripts they accepted. They had a reputation as hard-asses, and with good reason. It cost a lot of money to publish back then; they had to be careful.

Ebooks changed everything. There are a lot of publishers looking for good stuff. What you’ve got hidden in a drawer somewhere might fit the bill.

So dust off that manuscript and read it again. Edit as you go. Then find a friend who won’t blow smoke up your ass and ask them to go through it, too. Ask them to use Word’s markup feature to note changes. Get that story into the best possible shape.

Next step: Find a publisher. Google it. It used to be okay to submit to as many publishers as possible. That was back in print days. No simultaneous submissions are accepted anywhere these days. Trust me, if you’ve written well and told a good story, you’ll hear back in a much shorter time than it used to take (six to eight weeks as opposed to six months). Electronic publishing is that sand beast with all the teeth from The Empire Strikes Back. It’s constantly hungry and demanding to be fed.

When you think you’ve found a likely publisher, read their submission guidelines! Do not skip this step. It will piss them off. Format your manuscript the way they want you to and email it to them.

Then pour yourself a stiff drink and wait.

If you’ve followed my directions, you will get an acceptance email shortly. You have my permission to scream with joy and dance around the room.


About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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8 Responses to How to Get Published

  1. AJ Rose says:

    The trouble is your first instruction, and the blowing sunshine up people’s asses. People don’t want to hurt their friends’ feelings, so some people who don’t write well enough for publication have been told by everyone they know that they do.

    But of course, you know this.

    My suggestion would be to spend the money to hire someone if they don’t have a friend willing to be completely, brutally honest. If it sucks, they have to be comfortable saying so. Just my opinion.

    • I know a few authors who pay to have their manuscripts gone over by a pro. They take their work seriously.

      Anyone who wants to can hire me. ;/ I’ll be honest with ’em.

      • You say these things jokingly, but I’m thinking: copy edit or developmental? Will he read 10 pages and tell me what’s FUBAR for a set price? Does he like Google Docs? I like Google Docs. Would it cost an arm and a leg or just a leg?

        • Cost depends on who you hire. I’m sure there’s a wide range out there. Me? I’ll edit your manuscript for $.005/word. The longer it is, the more it will cost.

          I’m fortunate, in that I have access to several people who will give me their honest opinion for nothing, but not everyone is that lucky.

          I’ll read one page for nothing and tell you if you can write or not. The way I look at it, if you can’t write, why waste the money? The basics have to be there: good sentence and paragraph structure and the ability to set a scene and develop characters. Spelling and punctuation can be fixed. The bones have to be good to begin with, though.

  2. So, here’s a page. It’s set to comment in case you feel compelled to do so, because it irks me when I want to comment on something and can’t. Thanks!

    • I read it. I commented. I hope I did it right. Heh. If it doesn’t show up, let me know. I remember exactly what I said.

      Thanks for letting me take a look at that. Intriguing. 🙂

      • It’s weird–it shows up in my in box, but not on the document as far as I can tell. Thanks for the encouragement! Glad it was amusing. I’ve gotten feedback that it’s a bit snarky at times.

        • I see nothing wrong with snark. Sometimes it’s the life blood of a story. Finish it. Beta it. Submit it somewhere.

          There is NOTHING new under the sun! Every story has been told. It’s how you tell it that makes it different, fresh, new.

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