This post by Jane Friedman originally appeared on her site on 1/28/12.
Publetariat Editor’s Note: We mostly focus on the indie and small press routes to publication here at Publetariat, but since the hybrid publishing model (a mix of indie and mainstream releases) can be very effective it’s never a bad idea to share information on how things work in traditonal publishing, too.
It’s the most frequently asked question I receive: How do I get my book published?
Unfortunately, when I hear this question, I know I’m dealing with someone who is at such a beginning stage that it’s difficult to know where to begin.
With this post, I hope to offer the most critical information and address the most pressing questions, as well as provide a starting point for more fully exploring what it means for you to try and get meaningfully published. I’ve also created an Amazon list of the best resources on this topic.
If you’d like an in-depth guide on how to get your book published, consider my book on the topic: Publishing 101: A First-Time Author’s Guide.
First: The Difference Between Fiction and Nonfiction
Novelists (fiction writers) follow a different path to publication than nonfiction authors.
Novels and memoirs: You must have a finished and polished manuscript before you look for a publisher or an agent. While you may have heard of some novels or memoirs being sold based on an idea or proposal, this is rare for first-time authors without a strong publishing track record.
For most nonfiction: Rather than completing a manuscript, you should write a book proposal—basically like a business plan for your book—that will convince a publisher to contract and pay you to write the book. For more information on book proposals and what they entail, click here.