Hoping to publish a novel you’ve written someday? There are some things you can do to help make the process easier. Karen Watson, Tyndale’s fiction publisher, shared some tips authors should consider if they want to publish a novel someday or are writing one during National Novel Writing Month this year. Read the article below for some helpful insights to consider as you’re on the journey toward publication.
Before everything else, an author must be able to capture a reader from the very first line of a story. And though an opening line is critical, it isn’t enough to carry the reader through 350 pages! You must be a student—no, an enthusiast—of the craft of fiction writing. But beyond skillful writing, what are some things you can do to make yourself attractive to a publisher?
1.) Read broadly
In pitch meetings, I always ask about the latest book an author is reading, and the answer way too often is, “I don’t have time to read. I spend all my spare time writing.” That immediately makes me tap the brakes. Published authors read because they love it; they read to learn and improve; they read to spark new ideas. Read in and out of the genre you love. Read books that challenge you.
2.) Know what makes you as a writer and your book unique
Can you describe the qualities of your writing that characterize your voice? What can a reader or publisher count on in a book from you? Ask yourself: What are some unique qualities of my writing voice?
Think about what sets your particular story and your writing apart. Each author brings something different to the table. Do you write with humor? Do you love literary references? Do you bring unique settings to the mix or place your characters in unique jobs? What makes your writing about issues of faith translate to a wide audience?
As an author, you need to be able to clearly articulate what your story is about. Imagine you’re sitting down for coffee with a friend. If you can’t tell them what your book is about in a two short sentences, then you need to home in more on what your book is about, what makes it uniquely you, and the key themes you want your readers to take away.
3.) Connect with other writers in the community
Join writers’ groups with a mix of published and aspiring authors. Read author blogs. Comment and engage with other authors on social media. Be present in the writing culture. Network in an authentic way that is born out of genuine interest rather than as a stepping-stone.
4.) Share some interesting details about yourself to connect with readers
What other interests do you have that could make your story as an author something to chat about? One bestselling author regularly talks about her knitting hobby. Another author posts about her cooking adventures. Maybe you rescue dogs or run marathons or love MMA. An interesting story makes for an interesting author that readers will remember.
5.) Don’t send out your first novel—at least right away
I am not saying that your first novel isn’t worthy of being published. But I am saying that you’ll be more attractive to a publisher if you’ve proven you can deliver a completed manuscript over and over. There is a difference between a first novel and a debut novel—and your first novel may not end up being your debut novel. Consider writing or at least beginning another novel before you pitch a proposal to an agent or editor for the first book you’ve written. More than once, the question “What else do you have?” has turned the key to a contract. Still, make your focus the story, not the contract.
Thanks for reading and writing and being Crazy 4 Fiction!!