As someone without any published novels (as of the time of writing), it might seem a little hypocritical of my to be giving this sermon – but I’ve been involved in the process for a couple of years now, on retainers with several publishing houses, and I’d like to share my thoughts on the process.
1) Find a Professional Agent.
Whether you’re a fledgling novelist, dramatist, or screenwriter, finding representation in the field is vital. These days, most publishing houses are overfull with thousands of submissions – too much to sort through – so they prioritize those who approach them with an agent.
Your agent should be a legitimate business, with at least several years’ experience. Some are more respected than others, having represented big names, but having an agent at all will multiply your chances of being noticed.
2) Learn Your Work.
This one seems pretty obvious, but it’s absolutely vital: know about your own work. First, Decide who your intended audience is – Children? Young adults? Skydiving enthusiasts? This will shape your self-marketing, and help your agent/publisher to understand how your book might appeal to people.
Memorize a snappy pitch that summarizes your story and themes. For example, ‘[BOOK NAME] is the tale of a young scavenger who must investigate the death of her father. As she uncovers the facts, she finds herself embroiled in a world of danger, where any misstep could mean her death – all played out in a grand sci-fi setting.‘
Understand your characters: their motivations, and how readers might relate to them. Furthermore, what is your book’s message, if anything? How does it stand out from other works.
3) Be Patient.
The most important rule. As a new author, your success is ultimately in the hands of the publisher – themselves subject to market trends, competition, and many other factors out of anyone’s control. Your novel may be dropped at the very last second. You may feel expendable, which leads to the next point…
4) Don’t Give Up.
The world needs more authors, more worlds to lose ourselves in. Through writing, we explore the world; introducing ideas and emotions that can enrich lives. It’s a difficult task, and we often feel let down, which makes perseverance all the more important. A writer must be long-term, committed to the cause. It could take years, or even decades, but don’t let that stop you. You’re doing the world a vital service.