Monday, September 23, 2013

Should I try to get my book published?

by Stephanie Morrill

Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet (Playlist). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website.



After you've finished your edits and applied your critiques, you have a decision to make. Do I want to pursue publishing this manuscript or should I instead write something else?


To an extent, you can do both. But pursuing publication takes quite a bit of research and emotional investment, plus you spend a lot of time writing query letters, blurbs, and proposals. So let's examine the choices briefly:

Option 1: Pursue Publication

This is just my opinion, but if you want to try to get your book published, I can't find much of an argument against it. (And maybe that's because I started trying when I was in high school.) It's not much of a financial investment, and the worst that'll happen is you'll receive some form rejection letters.

Here's a super brief outline of how the process works:
  1. You decide you want to try to traditionally publish your book. (As opposed to self-publishing it.)
  2. You look for a literary agent. The majority of publishers will not look at manuscripts unless they come from a literary agent. Smaller presses often will, so if you're interested in a smaller press, then you could submit to both literary agents and smaller presses if you like.
  3. You figure out which agents (and possibly small presses) you're interested in and then you find a way to talk to them. Typically this is through a query letter (an email or letter that you write that explains your project and who you are and asks if they're interested in seeing more) but you can also meet agents and editors at writers conferences.
  4. Even though a literary agent works for you (agents only make money when you make money) they still have to agree to take you on as a client. They can only have so many clients, after all, and they have mortgages and kids like everybody else, so they need to make sure they can make money. If they like the first impression you and your story make, they'll ask to see more.
  5. Once an agent agrees to represent you, you'll figure out together which publishing houses could be a good fit for you and where your manuscript might need some tweaking/strengthening.
If you're wanting to be a novelist, I encourage you to work on another book as you query agents and editors rather than just sitting around waiting.

Option 2: Write another book.

You might not be interested in getting your finished book published, and there's nothing wrong with setting it aside and working on something new. There are lots of reasons to not pursue publishing a book - it's something you wrote just for you, you don't think it'll be marketable, it's not the genre you ultimately want to write in. Since YOU are the one making the financial, emotional, and time investment, YOU get to decide if it's worth it to you.

Though others may argue (and you may argue with yourself) that you just invested a lot of time in a book you're doing "nothing" with, I don't think that's true at all. We learn a lot with each book we write. 

So say you decide you don't want to publish this book. Now you get to start over with another. For some, this is the most exciting thing in the world. Some writers are almost addicted to brainstorming new story ideas. But others can feel a sense of anxiety in the process as you wonder, "Is THIS going to be the story?"

Even though you're starting over, starting down a new canyon, you get to bring all your knowledge and experience from your previous canyon hikes with you, and that makes a big difference.

27 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. This post is totally awesome!!!!! (I say awesome TOO much) ;) this clears up some questions I had about why authors don't get their first books they write published right away. :D I plan on publishing my first book because this next book I have for the series doesn't quite make sense without the first. ;)

    (My first comment had some.... things... thar I said wrong. :p)

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    1. So do I, TW! Awesome is like my word that I say a gazillion times a day. :) You're not alone!!

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  4. Great post. I have finished a book that I am really passionate about getting published, but I can't find an agent. I've queried so many, emailing loads of different agencies with query letters and I have gotten probably around 70 rejection emails. How do I carry on from there?

    www.alicekouzmenkowriting.blogspot.com

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    1. Great question, Alice. I'll talk about that later this week, okay?

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  5. Thanks for the post!

    Yeah, how do you find literary agents? Do you just go to writer's conferences like I've always heard?

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    1. I'll talk about this more later in the week, but here are a couple posts we have on literary agents:

      http://goteenwriters.blogspot.com/2012/08/basics-about-finding-literary-agent.html
      http://goteenwriters.blogspot.com/2012/10/finding-good-literary-agent.html

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  6. This is a wonderful post, Stephanie! I would love to learn a little more about query letters and pitch sheets. Querying agents is super intimidating to me.

    ~Sarah Faulkner

    www.inklinedwriters.blogspot.com

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    1. I understand! It intimidated me too! I'll talk more about it this week, okay?

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  7. Seems like queries are the name of the game today comment-wise, but I'm going to say something else ;) Thank you, because this is immensely helpful. I'm not ready to try for publishing yet. I don't think I'm mature enough as a writer, and while I'm pleased with some of my stuff...I haven't written enough full manuscripts, haven't really figured out editing, etc. So I think I need a few more years of practice first :) But this is very good to know because something I've been thinking about is if I even want to try to publish novels I write. Just what I've learned about the amount of pressure and the expectation of more than one book...I don't know. I'm not sure I want that. I don't write for other people and I'm quite stubborn at times and don't want people telling me what to do with things *I* created, so I'm not sure how I'd do with that. Not that I think it's bad or anything. Just to clarify. :) But anyway, thanks.

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    1. I love your attitude in this, Amanda. I think you're being very wise :)

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    2. Thanks. Just how I'm thinking things over lately. :) Not ruling anything out but considering.

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  8. I really liked this post! I recently finished one of my manuscripts and I think (after I edit it and rewrite it some more) I may try to get it published. I am glad you planning to do a post on agents! Thanks!!:-)

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  9. I'm interested in getting published, but it's all so...huge. ;) But with all the editing, writing, critiquing posts it has really encouraged me and it's just what I need. Thank you! :)

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  10. Nice post! I'm self-publishing my most recent book and am now writing the sequel, but it's technically not the FIRST book I've written. And even though I am SELF-PUBBING, I am still a writing machine (I have it planned out that I'll finish the 2nd and 3rd books of the trilogy by this July.

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  11. You are awesome, Mrs Stephanie. And I have really learned a lot from your blog posts. I, for one, am not sure if I want to pursue publishing just yet (even with the books I'm writing). I'm not sure I want to enter the writing world as a published author at such a young age (I'm still a young teen). I also realise my writing isn't the best, and it will improve as I go on. Publishing (and the thought of it) is REALLY huge. And at times, it's scary. So I don't know where this post finds me, or even what the meaning of this comment is. But again, I really appreciate this post and this blog. Thanks a million.

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  12. So I never find myself contradicting or correcting people here and someone else may have said something already in the comments, but I really think there should be an Option 3 or 1b or a note or something about self-publishing. While my first *novel* I hope to have traditionally published (if even just a small press), my debut is a *novella* that I've chosen to self-publish. I considered an opportunity I had recently to try once again to get that story traditionally agented/published and decided that honestly that would feel like settling. Sometimes self-publishing really is just the right choice for you and your book.

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    1. That's true, I didn't mention self-publishing, but it's certainly an option. My brain has been focused on the traditional path for this series - thanks for bringing that up!

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  13. Great post! I'm certainly not ready to pursue publication yet and instead I'd like to focus on improving my writing skills and getting more practice as a writer. Looking forward to the post on agents!

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  14. I'm 17 and published my book this past summer. It's been a lot of hard work, and still is, but I would do it all over again. One of the best parts of finally being published is getting feedback from readers that loved your book. It's what keeps me writing <3

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  15. Thank you for the great post, Stephanie :) I love finding out more about the publishing process since it's a major part of writing that I know virtually nothing about. I would really like to publish my main WIP (the one I'm taking a break from right now since I finished the first draft), but who knows? One thing I know will try to trip me up is my constant fear. . .I think I need to be sure that I'm not stopping my publishing dreams because I'm afraid instead of thinking logically about it.

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  16. I've been querying my book this year, and I took the advice of "write a book while you wait". So I wrote 4. >_< It's something to put creative engrgy into while I wait, and you can always tell yourself, "Well, if no one likes the book I'm querying now, I have four new options!"

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