Getting a Fiction Book Published

First, let me say upfront that the only genre I know about is Romance and its various sub-genres. If you have a 100k SF opus, you probably need to talk to a SF writer. In fiction you have to write a manuscript first, please do yourself a favor and read a few romances first, just to get an idea of what they’re about. Once you’ve got your manuscript written and edited until it’s as clean and strong as you can make it, then it’s time to submit to publishers. This industry is very volatile, especially as it pertains to e-publishers. There are new ones nearly every day. This list from the Passionate Pen is the most comprehensive that I’ve seen.

Be sure to check their guidelines. Some will accept an unagented submission, but many will not. Almost all of them will want what is called a query letter first. You can equate a query letter to the cover letter of a resume. You tell them in a couple of paragraphs about your book, and about yourself. If they’re interested, they’ll ask for what’s called a partial. A partial is typically a synopsis and the first three chapters of your book. Again, pay attention. Some will ask for one chapter, some will ask for the last chapter. Be sure to send what they ask for. With a synopsis you summarize your story in 2-3 pages. Here’s a good explanation of how to write a synopsis. You’ll find tons on the internet about how to write one, but I like Brenda Coulter’s very simple explanation.

Okay, once you’ve got your synopsis written, then it’s time to submit to publishers. You’ll want to check with the list of publishers to make sure you’re sending your book to the right one. You don’t want to send your lovely inspirational story to a publisher that specializes in erotica. You also need to check your publisher against the list at Preditors and Editors. Remember, unless you’re self-publishing none of this should cost you any money. Anyone that asks for editing fees or anything else should be avoided at all costs.

If you have your heart set on a publisher that won’t accept unagented submissions, then you’ll need an agent. I use a list from Agent Query. It’s current and has most of the particulars. Obviously you’ll want to check the agent’s site as well as any blogs they might have. You need the most up-to-date information you can get. A lot of agents (and publishers) send out blasts via Facebook or Twitter when they’re looking for something in particular. So, you’ll probably want to follow them if possible.

About E-Publishing

I’m a big fan of e-publishing for a lot of reasons. I like the immediacy of it. With a New York publisher you can wait up to a year before you find out if they’re interested in your book. The only exception I know of to this is Ellora’s Cave. Most e-publishers also pay monthly royalties and at a significantly higher rate. Typically New York publishers pay 8-10% on the wholesale price. That is, if your book retails for $8.00 your royalty percentage is calculated on the $4.00 wholesale price. E-publishers typically pay 35-40% on the retail price. Of course, there is a down-side to that. You’re going to sell a lot fewer copies than you would in mass-market. The average e-book sells fewer than a thousand copies the first year. The average is about 200 hundred the first month and they fall off sharply after that. The good news is, if you can build your backlist you get a sales bump each time a new book comes out.

If you decide to do this be careful. There are a lot of fly-by-night operators out there. Frankly, I wouldn’t submit to anyone that is new to the business and I have limited my submissions to a few of the top-tier e-publishers. Those are the ones that have the most exposure and earning potential.

Emily Veinglory maintains a comprehensive list of e-pubs here:

And Brenda Hiatt’s list will give you an idea of what publishers are paying and earning potential.

That’s all I have for now, this is probably more comprehensive than I had intended. Hope it helps those of you that are interested.

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