Today's the last post in the how to get your novel published series. So far we've covered:
7. Work hard to make connections and build your presence.
To achieve step 6 - acquire a literary agent - you likely already had to put yourself out there. For quite awhile I believed that once I acquired a literary agent, I would no longer need to put myself out there. My job - in my eyes - would be to write the books so he or she could sell them.
While writing the books is certainly necessary, you don't get to go into hibernation now that you have an agent. Here's why:
- As an unpublished author, your agent's primary role is certainly to find you a publishing house. They have the contacts to make that happen, but you can help them and you out by being a good product for them to sell. They need you to be growing your following and future readership. Yes, they need your book to be great, but a writer with the complete package - a great book AND marketability - is far easier to sell.
- While you get to benefit from the relationships your agent has built, and while they can often get you into doors you couldn't walk through yourself, don't underestimate the value of you having a relationship with an editor. If they've met you face-to-face at a writer's conference or something, it's an opportunity to deepen their interest in you and your manuscript. It's possible your agent sent it to them months ago, but they'd completely forgotten about it until they met you in person, saw your passion for it, saw how fun you'd be to work with. Now it's on their radar because you reached out.
- Your agent sells manuscripts for you ... but selling the books is your job. Which is where your relationships, your contacts, your efforts can really pull their weight. Going back to writer's conferences, it's been valuable for me to meet with editors and industry professionals, but it's also been really important that I get to know other writers as well. Sometimes I'm able to help them, and sometimes they're able to help me.
One of the tough and fun things about writing is that you never really "arrive." You'll be growing as a writer until you take your last breath. And the same goes for the business side. There will always be relationships to nurture, contacts to make, and hands to shake.
One more thing that I can't bear to leave out of this series - I believe to the core of my being that if I can get published, anyone can. When I started walking down the path of publication, the only thing I had to my name was a love for writing stories and a desire to be a novelist.
I wasn't an exceedingly gifted writer. I didn't know anyone even remotely involved in the industry, and I hadn't a clue about where to begin. I didn't know literary agents existed or what an unsolicited manuscript was or even what genre I wrote. Yet I somehow stumbled through steps 1-7 and found myself with these:
|My first series side-by-side with their Dutch-language counterparts :)|
I know it can seem daunting, but if you have the strength to withstand critiques, to keep improving as a writer, and the unquenchable desire to be published, it'll happen for you too.