So I’ve been writing for many years, and have spent a particular long time working on A Caregiver’s Last Lesson. I would really like to try and get it published traditionally, but I have frequently felt lost when it comes to exploring the world of traditional publishing. As this has been one of the best places I have found for interacting with readers and writers, I thought I’d turn the question over to you guys. What does one do when they’ve finished and edited a novel and want to take it to that next step?
Make sure it’s as perfect as you can get it. That means chapter-by-chapter critique partners (good ones), beta readers, multiple drafts, extra eyes to help copy edit.
Once you’re sure the manuscript is ready, you need a query package – query letter with pitch, synopsis, and first five pages formatted for email.
Research agents. Most good publishers don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. Those that do generally can’t do ANYTHING you couldn’t do yourself – but they claim the lion’s share of the royalties anyway. querytracker.net is where I would research agents that rep your genre.
Query in batches of 5-10. If you get no requests for partials or fulls, STOP querying. Fix your query and/or opening pages.
I’m on steps two and three. Do you know where I should go to get help on the query package?
Industry Insiders club here. You can do threads – I suggest separate ones – for critiques on your query letter and synopsis.
BE AWARE – you’re going to get asked hard questions, and you may find out you have holes you didn’t know you have or you lack elements that agents will be looking for. It may take many rewrites to get the query and synopsis right – and you may find out you need to do some rewriting of the novel as well.
I am aware of such things and I have done many a rewrite previously. Could you do me the great favor of linking my to the industry insider club?
Hi there. I moved your thread to the Industry Insider club as it’s best suited there. Thank you for understanding.
Traditional publishing is a huge step in one’s career. But it’s not as easy as others may make it seem.
The first thing you have to do is make sure the story is as good as it’s going to get. Most writers who take the big leap end up revising it at least three to four times before they get to the next step.
You don’t need a professional editor as most publishers will pair you up with one, but the story should look like it’s not a second or third draft.
After you get it to this point, the next thing you want to do is query agents. You can’t get published if you don’t have an agent. If you start looking for a publisher first, they’re not going to answer you back. In fact, they may just throw your story in the trash. Agents are free, so don’t worry about how much it’ll cost you. And publishing (traditionally) is also free, so if anyone is asking for money, don’t do anything. It’s a scam (or a vanity press).
Now, here’s where one of the major misconceptions are: many may think that having an agent automatically means you’ll get published. In a way, it’s true because they are that gateway. However, just because you have an agent doesn’t mean you’ll get published. Some authors may go through multiple agents until they reach that point.
I also recommend researching as much as you can about traditional publishing. And for extra research, you can watch Alexa Donne on YouTube who talks about publishing and how to get into it as well as more tips.
Okay. Thank you for the advice. As one who has been working on this for many years, I was familiar with a lot of what you stated. What I am hoping to do is find some beta readers who might be able to help me spot things I hadn’t, people who can review my query letters, and people who know agents that are looking for manuscripts at this time. I will for sure check out the YouTuber you mentioned.
To add to the already great advice you’ve been given, one of my favorite resources is Nathan Bransford’s blog. He is a writer and an ex Curtis Brown agent. Many common questions about traditional publishing, agents, and even self-publishing are covered on his blog.
Or multiple manuscripts with the same agent. Dropping an agent because they can’t sell a particular manuscript isn’t smart unless the agent was a poor fit from the beginning. No agent sells 100% of the manuscripts their clients produce.
Omg this is scuh great info!!
I’m also on steps two and three. It’s really stressful, I’ve found. I’m constantly second guessing myself.
My recommendation is to post your query and synopsis for critique. It can be painful and FRUSTRATING, but I’d sure rather go through that on the front end than find out later AFTER I’d blown through my query list.
Yeah, I’ve done that and it’s really helpful.