About eighty percent of humans who answered various surveys  in recent years say that someday they would like to write a book and get published. Perhaps half of those will start writing. Maybe five percent of the forty percent will finish, and far fewer will find a publisher for a book. You may be asking, “Is it hard to get a book published?”

Maybe you want to know how to get a book published for the first time. In short, it is a tough job to get a book published in today’s crowded market. But there are some basic guidelines and resources that can help you make the dream come true.

Let’s assume that you want to know more about getting your book published with a traditional publisher, as opposed to self publishing a book. If your goal is to get a book published on Amazon, see our article on Self-Publishing a Book.

So how do you begin to find a traditional publisher? Here are some essential steps.

Step one: Make sure your manuscript is in excellent shape. Many times, that will mean you need to hire an editorial service. There are good editorial services and bad editorial services.  Try to find an editorial service that has experience with the specific book category in which you wish to publish. For example, an editorial service that specializes in romance manuscripts may not be the best editor to handle a thriller or true crime.

In general, developmental (or substantive) editing involves more work than copy editing. Copy editing addresses, spelling, grammar and consistency of style.  Developmental editing looks at  the overall concepts and detailed elements of the story, such as character motivation, realistic dialogue, plot, pacing, and theme.

Fees for editorial services vary widely from one editorial services company to the next. In general, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1 to $8 per page for copy editing. For a typical novel of 280, one can pay anywhere from $280 to $2,240. Developmental editing may cost $20-$25 per page or more, or $5600-$7,000 and up. A good place to start is to visit our Authorlink® Editorial Services directory.

Now let’s assume that you have made the story the best it can be.  The plot points are perfect, the pacing is good, the dialogue sings and the work is grammatically correct, etc. It has been edited and re-edited. What’s next?

Step two: Build your public presence. Traditional publishers want to work with writers who have a public presence. The usual ways are to build your social media profile in the usual places–Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin. But you may also want to list a summary of your unpublished work on sites such as Authorlink® Publishers Market. The idea is to hang out anywhere editors, agents and writers do. Sites like Redit, Quora and Google Hangouts can also be helpful.  In addition, you can consider hiring a publicist, even before you find a publisher. A professional publicist, such as those you will find on the Authorlink® Publicist Directory can help you build your professional image as an author, beyond publicizing a new book.

Step Three: Find an agent. A literary agent is the person who has the connections to sell your work to a traditional publisher. It is difficult, if not impossible, to sell to a major publisher today without the benefit of an agent. A few publishers of romance and sci-fi/fantasy may not require an agent, but most do. Where do you begin to look?

Sadly, there are a fair number of scammers out there, along with hard-working, successful agents who play by the industry rules.  A legitimate agent will not ask you to pay money  up front for representation. Agents earn 15-20% of an author’s earnings, but only after they have sold the work to a publisher, not before.

There are several good ways to find an agent. Pitch your book at a writer’s conference, ask a published friend to introduce you to his/her agent. Join a critique group that may have access to agents. Read the forewords and acknowledgement of books that are similar to your story to see if they mention their agents. If so, Google them and start with a well-written query letter. Also, look for agency directories that have vetted their lists to try to insure listed agents are professionals. Start with the Authorlink® Agency Directory.  

You’ll find many articles on Authorlink® to help you learn what an agent does, and how to approach one with your project. Soon, we will introduce a new service for our Publishers Market authors, which will offer three free agency recommendations for each author’s listed work. Keep watching our site for more details.