Thursday, September 21, 2006

Turning Your Hobby Into Cash: How to Get Published

So, you've finally finished your book and are extremely proud of your effort. It took years and sullied a few relationships when you refused to leave your desk, but it's done, and you're excited. Then suddenly you realize that you have no idea how to look for a publisher, how to submit your work, and what to do if you get the dreaded rejection slip. This is all part of the sometimes harrowing process that writers have to face. The trick is to be ready, know how to get your book noticed, and find the perfect publisher who will work with you to get your masterpiece out into the world.

Authors spend most of their time writing and rewriting and soon becoming frustrated when they can't imagine revising any more words. Don't give up. You definitely do not want to send a mistake-riddled book off to a prospective publisher, and the editor probably won't be interested, either. Read each word carefully; use the spell checker, but incase you wrote "cat" instead of "bat" and it doesn't catch it as a mistake, you'll have to read it yourself too. If a sentence seems backwards or doesn't make sense, or you're not sure if you used the right term, check it out. Better safe than sorry. When you've gone over every word and you can't see any mistakes, you're ready to proceed to the next step.

Finding just the right publisher can be difficult. You should always send your book to a few different publishing companies at once; it is much more likely you will get a favorable response than if you send it to only one place. Waiting can be torture when you want to know if your big break is coming, but it's well worth it. Unfortunately, even with the super-fast Internet, some publishers will require you to send a letter through snail mail and the reply can take awhile to get back to you. Many writers dread the rejection letter that may come, but for every rejection there is an interested person who may be just as excited about publishing your book as you are. You may be asked to change some things; each publisher will have a unique idea of how your finished book should look. If you don't agree with their ideas, decide what to do from there.

The size of your book may determine where you want to send it. If it is a small book, there are publishers who handle books of this size better than others. If you have pictures you want to include, read how to contact the place in question and find out if they will take photos and how to go about it. Some publishing companies may tell you to add or subtract something from your pages, may tell you if they want black and white or color pictures, etc. The possibilities are endless. Poetry books, short stories, and kids' books are on a completely separate level from novels, romances, and non-fiction, so do your research and find out who wants what. It isn't a good idea to send your historical romance to a place that states it only wants science fiction stories.

Write a short autobiographical paragraph; you will probably need this when your book gets published. Find out what you should and shouldn't include, if possible, and what information is needed. Decide if you are comfortable with including a photo of yourself, and if you're going to use your real name or a pseudonym. Find a catchy title for your book; it should be something that reflects the content, but draws the prospective publisher (and any future prospective readers) with its uniqueness. When you find a publishing company willing to look at your writing, and the editor has suggestions in any of these areas, be prepared to consider them. He or she was kind enough to review your book, so you will want to take suggestions to heart.

The last tip is the most fun; when you've found a publisher and your book is in the works, celebrate. There is nothing quite so special for writers than to actually see the fruit of their labor. Of course, if you want to self-publish and decide to shop around in that area instead of worrying about finding the right publisher, that's another option. You'll still need to look carefully for the right place, though. After all, when you hold that book in your hands, all the difficulty you went through doesn't seem to matter all that much.

By Lacie R. Schaeffer