This week in Literary Citizenship we’re talking about publishing. The publishing world is like a giant game of Blackjack. It’s really a game of luck, but you can increase your chances of winning with certain skills and know-how.
Many editors have cashed-in on the secret to being published. Styles vary, but the advice is consistent across the board.
A Catchy Title and the Perfect Pitch
You’ll need both of these things not only to get published, but also to catch an agent. Your pitch should consist the nuts and bolts of your story and why it should be published. Something that is very important to the big publishers is money: is this book going to sell? “Who is this book for?” and “Which bestsellers is it similar to?” are questions you need to be prepared for.
Hit or Stay?
I’ve been reading Betsy Lerner’s book The Forest for the Trees, an invaluable resource for writers who want to be published. In chapters nine and ten Lerner, a book editor, contrasts what editors want with what authors want. There is a thickly drawn line as to whose opinion is more important in getting published, but what you as the author have to decide is what is more important to you: changing a major plotline to make them happy or keeping your integrity and moving on.
The publishing industry is a dog-eat-dog world, so it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s important to know that getting published by one of the Big Six publishing houses (think Penguin) is next to impossible, but don’t fret there are other ways of getting your book published. See Jane Friedman’s guide to getting published “Understand the Key Book Publishing Paths” (pictured).
Get out there!
There are many valuable resources when it comes to publishing that make it easier to get to know the industry and get your book out there. See: Eckstutt and Sherry’s The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, Marek’s Editors on Editing, Lerner’s The Forest for the Trees, or one of the other handfuls of books out there on the subject. The best advice I have heard, though, is networking. In publishing it’s all about who you know, so get on Twitter, build a blog, sell short stories to magazines, do whatever it takes to get your name out there.
Until next time,