I received an email a few day ago:
“I've enjoyed reading The Lost Puzzler a lot. I purchased it because it was similar in theme to a book I am writing. Again, it’s really great. As my novel goes through its final drafts, I can't help but wonder how authors like you found a publisher to distribute the book. If it isn't too much trouble, could you give me some advice on how to get published? I'm curious about how you did it, from the moment completion to having someone say "yes".Anything you could sling my way would be greatly appreciated!"
There is quite a lot of advice out there, but I am going to risk Hubris and add my two cents.
1 - write the best book you can
2 - find a literary agent – that means getting over the hurdle of someone actually reading some chapters and a synopsis and then intrigued enough for them to want more.
3 - edit your book again with a literary agent – if you’re lucky like me….
4 - send out the manuscript
5 – get offers (or jus tan offer) from one of the publishing companies.
Now to expand a little:
Point 1 seems like an obvious advice but there are some points that helped me:
1a - I did not employ an editor but I did send the first 10k words to a professional. The advice I got back was not much in volume but gold! The first page and first chapter (actually, the first line…) should be on the money!! I recently read an unpublished novel beginning with the words “I woke up”. Nothing about why or how the story teller woke up, what were they feeling or hearing? That, for me, is enough to begin resenting the work, imagine how an agent that reads hundreds or works feel?
1b. Give yourself some freeze time: that means you put your complete draft in the freezer and not touch for a couple of weeks. In the meantime, work on a professional synopsis, cv and template letter to agents or write another book. Publishing is a long process, it took two years from the moment HC expressed interest in TLP for it to publish and it is not considered to be long.
1c. Get some good beta readers to read and critique. Not every critique is right on the money, it is always your call.
2 - there are actually online lessons on how to write the query letter. I am not telling you to buy them, but you must understand an agent gets tens on queries a week, so mistakes in the query letter means he or she will not be read at all. The letter and your cv are as important as the first line of your novel.
Remember - you and your novel are a product to them, they want to earn money from your novel, and that is a good thing! Your letter should reflect professionalism as well as be personal.
Dear agent x,
My name is EK and I am an Israeli classical violinist and teacher with an international career.
My debut novel, “the awful agent” is a murder mystery set in the far future.
It is 2282, people do not read or listen to books anymore, they experience them in virtual reality.
Barns, a conscious AI detective needs to solve a series of real murders that happen in books played out the virtual world. Five reader’s consciousness were murdered in five different books, the only connection is that the authors are all represented by the same agent. Brans must delve into each storyline and gather clues as his own consciousness is being attacked by a mysterious virus.
(Actually, that is a damn good idea - don't steal it :)
4 – then comes the editing part. I know, If you are smart you already edited the manuscript dozens (!) of times, but if you are a novice, like me, you probably need more help. This process takes time. Take your time, don’t quit your day job…
If you get to 5 - you’re in the business (most likely) and if your manuscript get rejected, rework it and send to others. Or write another novel (I have an unpublished one buried somewhere…)