Getting published is hard. Most writers won’t find a place with a traditional publisher and the ones who do rarely find that success easily. As you strive to break into the industry, it’s important to keep track of your submissions, as well as your feedback. If you’ve made it more than six months without receiving any positive feedback (which doesn’t necessarily include an acceptance letter), it may be time to ask yourself some hard questions.
(1) Are you submitting to the right publishers or agents?
When we start our quest in publishing, it’s often with big dreams. We strive for a huge advance and a contract with Random House. And, while you should absolutely strive for that, it’s also important to explore smaller presses – especially ones with niche subjects and audiences. If you look carefully for a boutique press, you may find one that is a perfect fit. The staff with know exactly how to treat your book, as well as how to reach your ideal audience. It may not come with at six figure advance, but you will see book sales and grow a following within a dedicated community of readers.
(2) Does your book proposal need work?
You’re an accomplished writer, but is your field marketing? Have you developed the writing skills necessary to effectively sell yourself and your book? Have you done the market analysis to truly present your book as a unique contribution to a press’ catalog? These are necessary skills if you’re going to land a publishing deal or contract with an agent. If you don’t have these skills, though, you can hire an editor to work with you on your book proposal. It’s a solid investment in your time and money that can boost your confidence, as well as the odds of landing the deal you’re seeking.
(3) Is your book as polished as you think it is?
It’s often hard, as writers, to divorce ourselves from our work. However, if you’re seeking a publisher and not getting much in the way of positive feedback, it may be time to take a step back and have a book editor evaluate your manuscript. With editor’s notes in hand, you can spend some time polishing your book, perfecting it in ways that will make it stand out to your prospective publishers and agents.
(4) Should you consider self-publishing instead?
As the publishing industry shifts and changes, it’s become harder to land a contract with a big press – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Authors who choose to self-publish are finding success on a broad scale with their books becoming best sellers, optioned for movies, and more. If you’ve been at it for months – or even years – without landing your dream contract, it may be time to take a look at your self-publishing options and make your dreams a reality on your own.