“What’s stopping you from getting published?” asked Carlos Cooper in a recent post on The Write Practice. Great question! If you want to see your book successfully published in 2014 it’s worth thinking about what the obstacles you face are and how to overcome them.
The first hurdle is getting the book written. If you are working on a non-fiction book the most difficult challenge may be ending your research. If you find yourself saying, “I just have to finish researching ______, then I can start writing,” you would be wise to listen to some advice from Barbara Tuchman, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize who said, “The most important thing about research is to know when to stop. How does one recognize the moment? …One must stop before one is finished; otherwise, one will never stop and never finish.”
A lot of fiction writers seem to have a tough time getting a draft finished. They are perfectionists returning to scenes or chapters to tweak them again and again. If you are having trouble pushing through to the end, consider the guidance best-selling author Anne Lammot provides in a chapter of her book on writing Bird by Bird titled Shitty First Drafts. She says, “All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts.” Once you have that first draft you can apply the lessons in Renni Browne and Dave King’s Self Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print to polish it. Draw on feedback from your writers’ group, beta readers or even a professional editor.
The second hurdle is crafting a path into print.
When you’ve written the best quality book that you can, it’s important to realize that you are not finished. Having a quality manuscript does not necessarily mean it will be successful. Getting a book published successfully requires some knowledge of the book business. Take the time to learn the things that will give your book its best chance of success.
If your goal is traditional publication, you need to understand how to locate a literary agent who might be interested in representing your book and pitching it to her. Spending some time with Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents or the Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents will help you decide upon the people most likely to be right for your book. With your list of names prepared you can craft your submission using the book guidelines in Making the Perfect Pitch by Katherine Sands.
If you are one of the growing number of writers who plan to self-publish, take the time to understand some of the complexities of the process. It’s important to realize that you need to consider both how to get a professional quality book printed and how to deal with things like distribution, fulfillment, publicity and marketing. It’s important to know that a self-published book doesn’t need to be a DIY project. Brooke Warner, a coach who works with self-publishing writers advises,
My number one tip for self-pubbed authors is to make sure they have a team. Self-published authors need an editor, a designer, and a marketing and/or publicity person. When it comes to self-publishing, authors shouldn’t go it alone, nor should they try to reinvent the wheel. There are so many good experts out there who will help ensure that you have a beautiful finished product. Don’t try to do it all yourself!
To understand why, take a look at Guy Kawasaki’s book APE: How to Publish a Book for a wonderful overview of the self-publishing process. Before signing with any of the growing number of companies like Author Solutions, Outskirts Press or Publish America which offer self-publishing packages take the time to evaluate what they are offering by reading Mark Levine’s The Fine Print of Self-Print of Self-Publishing. Keep up with the latest developments in the world of self-publishing by following blogs like former Writers Digest publisher Jane Friedman’s Writing, Reading and Publishing in the Digital Age or Kristine Rusch’s The Business Rusch.
The opportunities to get your book into print and into the hands of readers is greater than it has ever been. Taking the time to think about how to overcome the obstacles to doing it can make 2014 the year you celebrate a successful book launch.