30 Things to Know about Getting Published

Let's face it: getting published is hard. 

There are a lot of writers out there, all trying for the same thing you are -- so how do you increase your chances of getting noticed and finally seeing your work in print (with a reputable publisher)?

Amy checked in with our staff in English & Writing (a team of published novelists, poets, playwrights, screenwriters, game writers and academic authors) to get their input on how to get published.

So, without further ado ...

30 Things to Know about Getting Published

1. Be prepared to take your work apart and put it back together. It will happen.

2. The bigger the market, the more compromises you will need to make to appeal to it. Be prepared to give some things up.

3. Choose your battles, and fight them with extreme politeness.

4. Sometimes your editor is right. Don't hate them.

5. A final published novel is produced by a whole team of people--not just one lone genius. 

6. Be professional at every step of the process, with every person involved.

7. Every agency and publisher has a preferred style. Stick to it.

8. Always respond positively to any communication, even if it hurts. This is a hugely competitive world.  The biggest message you need to send is that you are pleasant and easy to work with.

9. Make time in your life for the thing you love: writing. Don't let it get taken over by the marketing side of the work. 

10. In some areas of publishing, it makes sense to self-publish (in others, not so much). Speak to someone who knows your area.

11. Creating on a shoestring budget is sometimes the best recipe for success. Scarce resources can give a certain strength.

12. Collaborate. It's a great way to keep yourself accountable and develop new creative methods.

13. When planning your collaboration, look for people whose skills are strong and complementary, and people who are responsible and will do the work. 

14. Collaborate with other media forms, including people like artists or animations.

15. Make tracings and re-tracings, of seasons and regenerations.

16. Think about storytelling in terms of journeys: yours and other people's. This is a timeless subject.

17. Build your profile of publications through networking.

18. Develop a profile with small-scale unpaid projects that are part of a bigger event (like a festival or showcase) before moving on to the bigger, more prestigious and paid opportunities.

18. Have a professional website that showcases your work and expresses your brand.

20. Create opportunities for other people as well as for yourself.

21. You need to write and write, honing your voice.

22. Persevere. Rejection is a normal (perhaps the most normal) part of being a writer.

23. The best ways to arm yourself against disappointment is to believe in yourself, to manage your expectations about your work and be honest with yourself.

24. Get to know your genre. Know the genre you’re writing in from the inside out before you start writing.

25. Find out what’s happening in the world of the form you are working in. What's considered cutting edge? What's popular? What's interesting?

26. Spend time in bookshops chat to the people who look after your section. Ask them about who buys your kind of books.

27. Get involved in the relevant literary scene in your area. Get your name and face out there.

28. Be methodical in working out--and working through--a list of publishers in your area. Arrange them into top tier, middle tier, bottom tier, and start querying at the top.

29. Read all the current bestsellers in the genre.

30. Know that there are very few shortcuts. Be ready to work for it.

by Amy Hardman