How can I get a Book Published?

Many people harbor a secret fantasy of writing the Great American Novel and then finding the Great American Publisher to put it in the hands of an eager public. In reality, it often takes a significant amount of luck, tenacity and talent to get a book published through traditional outlets. The book publishing industry can afford to be very selective when it comes to publishing new titles, and few unsolicited manuscripts from unknown or unestablished authors are even read by anyone in a decision-making position.

The traditional method many beginning writers use to get a book published is to shop a finished manuscript. This involves mailing a synopsis and sample chapters of a proposed book project to a publisher, who may or may not ask to see the entire manuscript. Sometimes a beginning writer may send an entire manuscript blindly to publishing houses known to publish similar work. In the writing business, this may be called an "over-the-transom" submission, since some desperate writers have been known to toss their entire unsolicited manuscripts through the window above an editor or publisher's door.


The reason why most writers fail to get a book published through an unsolicited or blind manuscript submission is volume. Many publishing houses receive literally thousands of unsolicited manuscripts through the mail every year, and experience has convinced most of them that nothing promising ever arrives "over-the-transom." Assuming an employee is available to read through the "slush pile" of manuscripts, the process can be mind-numbing. Occasionally an author finds the right publishing house, usually a smaller company with a much shorter slush pile, and he or she does get a book published through a traditional "diamond in the rough" route.

Another way to get a book published is to find a legitimate literary agent willing to pitch your manuscript to the right editors and publishers. Almost all major publishing houses rely exclusively on the expertise of literary agents to find the most promising titles. In order to get a book published through a major publisher such as Random House, an author would need the services of a literary agent with a good working relationship with the professional publishing industry. Once a literary agent succeeds in pitching an author's manuscript to a publisher, the book may be put on a publishing schedule. This could be a few months to a few years of downtime before publication, but certain authors may be paid an advance in anticipation of future sales.

Getting a book published through traditional publishing houses has become very challenging in recent years, since major publishers won't read unsolicited manuscripts and smaller publishers are either focused on one particular niche genre or have suffered financially. This reality has led to the increased popularity of vanity presses, publishing companies which contract with individual authors to produce professional-level books for a specific price per book. A vanity press isn't always working in the best interests of an author, but it should produce a marketable book for first-time or local authors who have been routinely rejected by publishers.

There is a difference between having a book printed and having a book published, however. There is a certain feeling of artistic satisfaction whenever a new writer manages to get a book published through a recognized publishing company. Buyers are also more likely to invest in a book containing all the earmarks of a professional publication. While vanity presses or other self-publishing services may allow an author to print a manuscript in book form, it may be better for a serious writer with aspirations towards establishing a writing career to find a literary agent or establish himself or herself with smaller publication credits before approaching a major publishing house with a polished and professional manuscript.



Discuss this Article

Post 5

If you have a finished manuscript, don't send it blindly to a publishing house that sells similar work, just like this article advises.

If you're wondering how to get a book published,

find the right publishing house through a literary agent who's high on your writing.

The steps are pretty obvious but hard to decipher when you are just starting out. The first step is to find the right literary agent if you're doing this the tried and true way.

If you're planning on publishing online or selling your work through eBooks, congrats! You are forging a new path and will most likely be learning as you go. It's a whole new world out there for writers. Good Luck!

Post 4

@anon169563 - I just had to respond to your post. Don't give up! There are so many ways to get a children's book published these days. The old publishing houses still do business by having writers query the editors, wait to hear back, maybe for months, and follow the traditional route to publishing.

But, girl! There are so many choices out there for you right now. Whether or not you can drive or get out of your house is not a problem. You can join online groups of writers and learn everything you need to know.

Is your writing vanilla or chocolate, or maybe chocolate pistachio? Finding a match, that editor who craves chocolate pistachio can be a difficult

process. But not if you know where to start. For example, there's a website called webook where you can find the exact match of a literary agent for your work.

There are others, plenty of them these days. The thing is, you need to get involved in an online website that promotes writers. Then you can make yourself heard. Forget about the fact that you are housebound. Remember the story of the author of the Harry Potter books? She was a single mother, making hardly anything to support herself.

Believe in yourself. Your writing matters. Then dig deep to find the writing site that can promote you, grow you, and sell you. It's all about your drive, your creativity, and perseverance. Only you know if you can do this.

Post 3

All right, now you have thoroughly discouraged me from doing a lot of work that I simply not capable of doing. I am old, disabled in a wheelchair, I don't drive, I live alone (with my dog) in the middle of primitive nowhere and everyone refers to me as “That crazy old hermit.”

Honestly, that sounds like the biggest bunch of hokum since Rube Goldberg! Unfortunately it is all very true. So, how do I get my book published (without being some Julian Assang with an autobiography)?

Post 2

TwistedTwig- I agree with you that it is important to know your market if you wish to get your book published.

I also think that it is very important to start with smaller book publishers, especially if you are a beginning writer. Don't expect to write your first novel and have it published by a big New York City publisher. Start with smaller publishers to gain a reputation and experience. You can then get your next book published by a larger, more prestigious book publisher.

Post 1

I think that an important aspect of getting a book published is to know your market well. Analyze the plot of your book and identity which market it will work best in. Book markets include teens, kids, romance, self-help, travel, Christian and biography, among many others.

Many book publishers and agents only work in specific markets. Be aware of which publishers are within your designated market and only send the book to those specific publishers. Sending your travel narrative to a romance book publisher will be a waste of time.

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