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I'm interested to know what the publishing process exactly entails for future reference. I'm in my last year of school and I recently finished my first substantial piece of creative writing (a subject I chose for an exam related project). I presented my novel to an audience of school faculty and English Literature teachers and I was encouraged to find a publisher for the work. The feedback for what I have written is generally very positive and after I'm finished with exams, I want to polish the work and attempt to get it published: For future reference, how would I go about this?

I appreciate answers from those well versed in the rigours of what I understand is a difficult and frustrating process.

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I recommend reading these articles, even so they do not answer exactly your question: deanwesleysmith.com/?page_id=860 –  John Smithers Mar 14 '11 at 22:21
    
Depending on the fit, and you'll need to do some research here, try one of the imprints at John Hunt Publishing. I've had good experiences as writer and publisher with them, but work on the Liberal Arts/Storytelling imprint, Liberalis, which is different. –  Leon Conrad Mar 7 at 7:58
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2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

First thing you want to do is find a neutral beta reader. These are people who don't know you at all and will give you honest feedback. Teachers and friends might be great for cleaning up grammar, but they're not going to tell you if it's absolute crap. I've had some good experience with the ones at Perfect Imagination

The next step is to research publishers. Make sure you pay attention to their submission details and make sure they publish the type of novel you have. You don't want to send a romance novel to a mystery publisher.

The next step is to write out a query letter. Most publishers will have guidelines on what they want from you in this letter. Common elements include a full synopsis (including the ending), any writing credentials that you may have, and why you want to publish with them. Some will ask for you to send a sample (usually the first couple chapters and the last) others will tell you not to and if they're interested in it, they'll request it.

Remember to proofread this letter and have someone else look over it. Always be professional and follow a publisher's guidelines to the letter. Keep it in your mind that editors often can work at multiple houses and that editors talk to each other. Trust me, we like to gossip about people who give us problems. Mouthing off or acting like an amateur with one editor, could cost you at a dozen houses.

After your query letters are off, pray to the Publishing Gods that someone accepts it. After you get contract offers, then you can seek out an agent or a lawyer to read over it and help negotiate to get you the best contract possible.

When you're researching publishers and agents, make sure you check them out. Look at sites like Predictors and Editors, ask around in publishing circles, or at the very least Google the publisher's name and "complaint".

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thank you very much, this will be a massive help –  Edward Rose Mar 14 '11 at 0:34
    
No problem! (Feel free to accept the answer too ;)) –  Ralph Gallagher Mar 14 '11 at 1:04
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There's a good essay by Malinda Lo on the process. One of many, I'm sure, but that's the first good one I found on a cursory browse.

I'd like to point out that knowing the general process is probably not enough; at every step along the way, you should read and research and learn as much as possible. Publishing is an arduous, difficult field, full of slush. If you're committed, you want to do everything you can to avoid being slush.

Here's individual steps along the way that I suggest you learn about as much as you can.

  • Polishing and rewriting your book. Honing your craft, seeking out critiques and understanding what to take from them, and the painful art of revision.
  • Finding an agent.
    • You'll want an agent who's professional, capable, trustworthy, and whom you work well with.
    • You'll want to avoid scams, ripoffs, and incompetents.
    • You'll need to understand which agents do what and which is appropriate for your book (and possibly for a future writing career).
    • You'll need to learn how to query an agent - both general guidelines for the field at large, and the specific requirements and preferences of each and every agent you query.
    • The agent will probably suggest a lot of changes and revisions to your novel, so another rewrite here.
  • Finding a publisher. By this point, you've got the agent to rely on, but the agent will need to find you a publisher, and you'll need to negotiate a contract. The editor will have further changes for the book.

That's the general outline. If you're serious about getting published, read everything you can about these steps, so that you know what you're getting into, how to present yourself and work with others, and what you're entitled to expect and demand.

Good luck to ye :D

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"The agent will probably suggest a lot of changes and revisions to your novel, so another rewrite here." This is /not/ an agent's job. Their job is to negotiate contracts, not edit your manuscript. It's your job as an author to write and edit the piece and shop it around. –  Ralph Gallagher Mar 14 '11 at 15:32
    
I could well be mistaken here, but my impression is that it's not the agent's job to edit your novel, but s/he is likely to make suggestions for improvement - with the goal of having an easier/better sale, of course. You can take or leave the suggestions, much more so than with your actual editor, but my impression from reading around was that suggestions are made. –  Standback Mar 14 '11 at 16:03
    
Apparently there's significant variety in this area - see e.g. cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/2009/06/… . –  Standback Mar 14 '11 at 16:11
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