How to Get Your Book Published (Not!)
After all, isn’t that what an editor does? Edit? Who cares if you put your commas and periods outside the quotation marks, don’t have a clue how to use apostrophes to make possessives or write “your” when you mean, “you are.” Let the editors worry about that stuff! You have more important things to do.
Don’t learn the rules of story structure and/or the rules of writing.
Rules smules! Your story is so scintillating that it’ll stand on it’s own no matter how you tell it. You can’t be constrained by a set of arcane rules that stifle your creativity. Just write what you feel. Somehow, it’ll all come together.
Don’t study the market.
Who cares if your book, “Vegetable Soup for the Soul,” seems like something that’s been done before. That’s not your problem. Let the publisher worry about it.
Don’t learn what the publisher publishes or might be interested in publishing.
Just how were you supposed to know that Nonfiction Books Only, Inc. wouldn’t be interested in your romance novel? They’re a publisher, aren’t they? What the big deal?
Don’t follow the guidelines supplied by editor/agent.
Send a query letter, send a proposal, don’t send anything! You can’t keep that all straight, so why try? Just send them your manuscript and be done with it. They’ll get the point.
Ignore practical advice for writing a query letter.
Go on, tell the editor or agent that your book will be a big seller. Huge. In fact, it’ll make Jerry Jenkins weep. Oh, and don’t forget to mention the spiritual element: God wants this book published so what are they waiting for?
Don’t proofread your query letter/synopsis/proposal/manuscript before it’s sent out.
It’s the book that brilliant, right? So, who cares about the rest?
Send out a proposal without writing the book.
Hey, published writers do it all the time. Why go to all the effort of actually writing a book? Naw! Just throw something together and get it into the right hands. The hard work comes after the advance. You’ll write that book—really, you will.
Don’t be professional in your presentation.
Listen, the editors and agents get the same old thing all the time. Why not be creative? That bright yellow paper with the ladybug in one corner makes a statement and it’s so cute! Why not use it to print your entire manuscript? Or maybe you should include a little Godiva Chocolate in the proposal package—what a great way to “sweeten” the deal.
Call the editor/agent every few days.
How’re they going to understand that your book is a priority unless you remind them? Don’t be shy! Get on that phone and bug them mercilessly. Or use E-mail to your advantage. Make sure they know who you are!
Originally published in the June 2003 issue of One Write Way, the newsletter of American Christian Writers of Ventura County