To celebrate World Book Night, we look at the five steps to getting a book deal, but we can't promise it'll be easy
Is writing a book on your bucket list? You’re not alone. The competition for getting published is fiercer than ever before, but hundreds of thousands of books hit the shelves/Kindles/Amazon each year and one of them could be you.
Let’s get started:
1) Do your research. You may have an idea, characters, a beginning, a middle and even an end, but we suggest you go back to the start and do some market research. If you’re writing fiction, visit book stores to see if there’s a gap in the market, has a topic been written about that you could do better, what sorts of stories and genres are doing particularly well this year, for example do you want to jump on the erotic fiction bandwagon (think Fifty Shades of Grey) or perhaps you could rival the success of Gone Girl by producing an even grittier thriller? Publishers are always looking for original and ground-breaking concepts, too, but make sure it’s phenomenal.
If you’re hoping to work on non-fiction, the chances are you’ll be tapping into a particular niche, so find out what your audience want to find out, which specific aspects of your chosen topic interest them? Ultimately, if you want your book to be published and sell well, you’ll need to write for your audience and not yourself.
2) Get an agent. These days getting a literary agent is crucial, and choosing the right agent to represent you is the most important decision a writer will ever make. A good agent will help you sell your book to a great publisher, negotiate you the best deal and provide much needed advice and support throughout the publishing process. Agents make their income entirely from commission on the sales of their clients’ work (usually 15 per cent in the UK) so finding a decent agent who’s willing to take you on is in itself a big task.
3) Send a query letter. The first step to landing yourself an agent is to send a query letter. Keep your letter short (no more than one page) as agents will recieve dozens of queries each day. Use this to explain who you are, what the book is about and what its potential market might be. A good tip is to tailor it to the specific agent, just like you would with a covering letter when applying for a job.
4) Submit. Once you’ve found the perfect agent for you (if they liked your query letter they’ll ask you to send in an example of your work, either a couple of chapters or a synopsis of your work, and then they’ll arrange a meeting to seal the deal), you’ll need to submit your manuscript to a publisher. Make it easy to read, double space the copy and number the pages. Always include a tailored covering letter. Your agent will have looked over your manuscript, suggested alterations and found you appropriate publishers to send it to.
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5) Follow up. If you haven’t heard back from the publisher after two or three months get in touch to ask for a progress report. Sitting patiently by the phone never got anyone anywhere.
Now, go forth, write and be published!
Have you had a book published? Is there any advice you’d like to add? Let us know in the comment box below.