Monday, January 10, 2011

Publishers and Agents

So let's say you've finished your novel. Yes. This 80K+ word baby of yours, the one you've labored over for months--perhaps years--and constantly edited is finally finished. You've written your query and it's perfect. Now comes the question almost every new writer asks: Who do I send it to?


Repeat after me:

I do not pay to write.
I do not pay to be read.
I do not pay to get published.
They pay me.

You don't pay to work, do you? If you're a nurse, you don't pay to stick people with needles or fill out charts or stand all day on your feet. As a lawyer, you don't pay to spend all your time in courthouses. And if you're a construction worker, you don't pay to bust through the concrete with a jackhammer on a ridiculously hot day.

So as a writer, you shouldn't have to pay to publish your work.

Unfortunately, there are hundreds of scam artists out there who would just love to get their hands on your money. They are always on the lookout for aspiring authors who don't yet know what they're doing...and then just like a shark, they sink their teeth into them and don't let go. Don't become one of these.

(for more info on this please take a look at Raven Clark's blog on Vanity Presses)

As someone who has recently finished a novel, I know what it's like to wonder where to start the search for legitimate publishers and agents. It's a bit overwhelming if you don't know what you're doing and even more if there is nobody to go to for help. This isn't something I want anyone to go through so after a bit of research and grabbing from my own personal experience, I've decided to share a few tips.

One way (and there are many, I'm sure) to go about finding publishers who might be interested in your book is actually pretty simple. Go to your local bookstore and browse through the shelves.

Look for books that are of the same genre as yours. If you know the names of authors whose style is similar to yours, look for them. Once you find them, go to the Copyright page and write down the name and address of the publishing company listed there.

Then go to the library--and I say library because I know from experience that some bookstores frown upon people who take enormous amounts of time scribbling things down from books--and look for the latest copy of Writer's Digest Writer's Market.

Yes...I said it too.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard those four words since I began writing. It always bugged me how often people kept nagging at me to get a copy of this book, but now I realize they were right. It's definitely worth owning your own (current) copy of this. Especially if you are planning on writing more than one book. Still, if you aren't swimming in cash, as most of us aren't, the you can always find one at your local library. Good thing for that!
What you do next is take those names and addresses you jotted down and look them up in this glorious book. Read through the submission guidelines carefully.

While there are publishers who accept un-agented submissions from writers, there are some that don't. If you're not sure where to look for an agent, you can always take a look at Association of Author's Representatives.

No. Not every agent is listed here and not all of them are going to be the best. But they've all promised to conduct themselves ethically when dealing with clients. This is VERY important because there are some agents (unfortunately) who are just looking for new writers to give/make them a lot of money.

There are other places where you can search for agents and publishers but I recommend Writer's Digest hands down, as the best place to start your quest. They offer advice, tips, examples, and even have a wonderful writer's community where feedback is not a requirement for fellow aspiring authors to answer what questions you might have.

I wish all of you luck with your writing and future careers as best sellers.

Happy Writing.

10 comments:

  1. Ree Vera, thank you! This is a wealth of information and confirms what I suspected. Without rambling, I know someone who 'published' via some backyard vanity operation - and it was a JOKE. His original manuscript had in excess of 330 pages - that got chopped to 220, which in turn compromised the guts of his story; and the editing was so poor, that each and every page had both grammatical and spelling errors. The novelty of "hey, I'm a published author" quickly wore off, which really was a shame considering the two years he put into his novel. Ten points for this post! Thanks for sharing.
    Blessings
    Moana

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  2. Ooof, I'm sorry about your friend. That is an awful thing to happen to a writer...I hope he wasn't put off the craft completely. I'm glad you found this informative and helpful. Please be sure to check out Raven's blog. She explains Vanity Presses much more in depth and why we should avoid them. Thanks for reading Moana.

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  3. Oh wow this was very good. I'm glad there are agents out there willing to agree to a code of conduct. I mean, it would suck for an aspiring author to be taken to the cleaners by some greedy agent.

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  4. Another informative blog. And one much needed.

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  5. @Rue, yes I absolutely hate it when I hear of new writers getting ripped off. It makes me so mad!
    @Andy, Thank you. Glad you liked.

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  6. I do not pay to write! Gotta keep telling myself that :)

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  7. Oh Vanity Presses make me so mad! I am constantly being spammed by them! Thank you for letting everyone know that NO, you don't pay to write!

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  8. I get spammed too and I'm trying to figure out hwo to stop it. Haven't yet. Thank you for reading!

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  9. I just saw this now. lol. This is a great post. I'll probably just post my Vanity Presses one here, that way it's in the same spot. If there is no pressing topic for the 16'th of May, I might just repost that. Thanks for the great post!

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