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Getting Published: An Ultimate Resource Guide
Previously, I posted an ultimate resource guide for writing a novel. That article focused primarily on the composition side of the industry: how to get your novel started, edited and finished. And, while it touched briefly on the publishing side of things, I wanted to create a separate resource that focused on publishing alone. Many experienced writers will know that the challenges of writing a book, and the challenges of publishing it, are two completely different skill sets. With this in mind, my publishing guide will focus on subjects I believe will help the first time author take his (or her) first steps into the publishing world.
Also note that these guides address both traditional and self publishing, so one might not apply as well to the other. The description will help direct you to the best fit for your writing plans. But, since each side comes with its own unique challenges, these articles should not be interpreted as an endorsement of one over the other.
While not necessarily a ‘how to’, this article focuses instead on a lot of things I did wrong. Having spent a year trying to hook a literary agent, I learned a lot of useful information. Things like strong character names, word count, and the simplicity of a query, had a much larger impact on my rejections than I realized the first time around. With these experiences, I hope to help a future writer avoid pitfalls that are, otherwise, incredibly easy to avoid.
I always recommend that writers, going the traditional route of publishing, should pick up a copy of the ‘Guide to Literary Agents’. In addition to query and summary resources, it contains a list of agents accepting various novel genres. If you can’t afford a copy, or your library doesn’t have one, I’ve provided a free alternative. During my time submitting, I focused primarily on ‘genre’ fiction, like Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror. So, in this article, I pass on my list of those agents, along with links and a few tips on how to interact with them.
If you’ve decided to go the self publishing route, the personal costs can quickly escalate. So it pays to do everything you possibly can on your own. In this case, I focus on cover creation. Things like font legibility, thumbnail recognition and colorless e-readers can all effect how well your cover is received. Though I deal primarily with Photoshop, these techniques can be applied using a variety of art related programs.
Going hand-in-hand with making your own cover, making your own epub file can also save self-publishing authors money. Most e-readers use this format because it allows text to change dynamically to the settings of any device. But conversions to this format aren’t always cheap. Inside I outline one such method, using only free programs, so you can make your own epub files.
I wrote a series of articles chronicling my journey of writing an epic fantasy novel. However, for the purposes of this guide, you need only focus on the final installment. It details my efforts to get published in the traditional market as well as my current model in the self publishing one. While it is presented in a sort of ‘you’re not alone’ format, there are some additional nuggets of advice about staying on track.
Part of getting a literary agent (or a publisher) to notice you, is having a resume of published works. The best way to do this is with short stories in literary magazines. I can’t stress enough how much this can help you down the road, as a writer. Short stories may not be everyone’s ideal format, but it certainly deserves consideration no matter what kind of writing you prefer. Much like my article about literary agents, I provide a list of magazines looking for genre fiction, as well as some tips about how to submit to them.
If you’re reading this then you are, hopefully, on HubPages.com. It’s the website where I write all of my articles. One of the things that I quickly noticed about getting published is how long it takes to do anything. Whether it’s writing a big novel, contacting literary agents, or waiting for slow publishers to finally put your book out; it’s all about patience. But in the age of the internet, patience is in short supply. For this reason, I think it’s important for modern writers to utilize online writing. Its benefits are two-fold: it helps you establish a presence/brand from which you can later launch larger works (like a book), and it gives you a constant stream of write-and-reaction. In other words, you can write something, publish it online and get responses from users within minutes. So, whether it’s an article-based site like HubPages, or a blog, it can be incredibly helpful during your journey to publication.
I had some conflict about including this article on this list. I wrote it at a time where I was struggling between the rigidity of the traditional market and the completely un-moderated wilds of self publishing. In it I describe my reservations and the perception of a market that has changed drastically over the last ten years. But I decided to include it because it speaks to our perceptions of this industry and how they can change on a dime.
While this article isn't technically a 'resource' for getting published, I do think it's incredibly important. Considering how many rejections you are likely to receive before you achieve your publishing goals, you will need to figure out a way to deal with them. They're demoralizing, yes, but they're also empowering. That number, every time it ticks higher, is an example of how many shots you've had at your dream, and how determined you are to see it through.
Much like with all of my Ultimate Resource Guides, I will leave this open ended for future articles that apply. Hopefully it will be of some help to you. If not, feel free to ask a question in the comments section below, and I will do my best to answer it.