How to Get Published
The first thing to know about getting published is that it’s an extremely competitive market.
Thirty years ago there was a process. You wrote your book—edited—edited—edited—submitted to an agent—agent then submitted to a mainstream publisher— and, if you were one of the lucky 100,000, your book was deemed worthy and you went on to be a published author.
Then, once upon a time in the land of fairytales and magical forests, a great big, friendly giant strode over the native land. He had an unusual name, and the children of the world called him the World Wide Web. Internet for all of mankind—and clever chimpanzees, too— was invented. However, unless you had a great deal of knowledge and technical ability you still couldn’t publish your work. A new beast came to challenge the great big, friendly giant and his name was Vanity Publishing.
And, one day, not so long ago in the Emerald forest, a lady beast mated with a lesser beast and a hybrid child was created. Hybrid publishing is pretty much another name for vanity publishing—but it has some different rules.
This beast found a lady beast, too, and vanity-hybrid publishers bred and swarmed the internet like locust. Soon, they were popping up all over the place. And within a short space of time, they gained a poor press.
I used one in the early days, and would never go down that road again. It was an expensive way to have the joy of holding your book in your hands. Sales tended to be poor and the profit and loss scales were highly tilted toward the loss ratio. I will write future articles on mainstream publishing, vanity publishing and hybrid publishing with an open and unbiased viewpoint to highlight the differences, but that isn’t this article.
These days it’s very easy to follow the publishing process, from start to finish on your own. Amazon is a well-known source of publishing.
How do you want to be published?
You need to consider what you are publishing. Is it a short story, an article or a book?
Publishing your Short Story
There is a market for selling your short stories, though the prestige of seeing your words in print probably far outweighs any financial gain. Thirty years ago, when only hard copy was available, a living could be made writing short stories—if you were good, but the standard was high and the industry difficult to break into. These days, there are a wealth of online magazines taking short story submissions but the average payment seems to be £3.00 for 1000 words, minus international transfer and bank fees. Shelve any thoughts of buying a Caribbean island from this venture—though you can probably look forward to a Bounty Bar from your first paid commission.
When you have enough of them, you can publish your collection of short stories in an anthology, but be warned, as a generalisation anthologies don’t sell as well as complete novels.
My advice would be to start by publishing your stories on some of the fantastic writing sites available on the internet. I came up through the ranks of posting on UK Authors and ABCTales there is no better way of learning the writing craft. Both sites are free and will give you a friendly, constructive critique of your work to help you learn the nuts and bolts of writing and encourage your progression. For anybody new to writing and unsure of where to go to showcase your work, I can’t recommend these sites highly enough.
Publishing your Articles
If you want to be published as an article writer. Other than using your website as a platform, many SEO companies will pay you to produce articles that are heavy in keywords and hyperlink. Two that I’ve used are Upwork and Copify I made a decent living from them but worked long hours for it. That led to my writing both courses and exam papers for The Open university. Both companies have exacting standards and you have to have a solid grounding in both grammatic and technical English.
Publishing Your Book
When publishing a book, we all want to be head-hunted by a scout for one of the big—no let’s be honest—the biggest mainstream publishing houses. The likelihood of this happening— is close to zero. It’s a common scenario: you’ve written a book—well done—but you don’t know how to translate that idea from your computer screen into print or online. For aspiring authors, it can be a murky Twilight Zone. The internet is a marvellous thing, it has opened a new super-highway to the common man in the field of published writing. But like many good things—just as cream cakes will make you fat—the world of internet publishing is a double-edged sword. The market is saturated to the point of bursting lungs, and everybody and their three-legged dog are out there, publishing their story.
There are no industry standards or conditions to be met. If you’ve written a book, you can publish it. I have bought and paid for ebooks that are so poorly written that they were unintelligible and impossible to read for the litter of typos, errors and formatting issues. Best Book Editors can and will help you and guarantee to whip your book into shape whether it’s first draft or tenth. However, learn your craft. Put your stories out on the writing sites, give ABCTales a go before you even consider yourself good enough to publish your work.
When you have written your book and think you are ready to publish, I can’t stress enough that you should hire a professional editor. I can virtually promise you that as good as you think your book is after a couple of self-edits—it `ain’t that great, my friend, and can always be improved. Best Book Editors guarantees you a publishable and well-written book at an affordable price. There isn’t a book out there that we can’t polish and bring up to industry standard.
Of course, you may choose to go down the traditional route of publishing. And if you do, good on you, I applaud you. Find a herd of wildebeest to trample you first, it’ll toughen your skin— and you’ll need it. Most of us travel that road first and only turn to self-publishing when our houses crumble under the weight of rejection slips. I recommend that you do it—if you don’t try, you will never know. Penguin, Randomhouse and HarperCollins dominate the publishing world, wouldn’t we all want to be signed to one of these companies? Have faith in your writing, believe in it. The world of writing is tough and you have to back your product. You may be that one person in a hundred thousand that is paid a six-figure advance by a top publishing house to write their books in financial comfort. But I promise you, that book has to be flawless and it has to have every element that goes towards making a Bestseller before an agent will touch you. Publishing houses will not take unsolicited work—before they will consider reading your work, it has to be submitted through an agent.
To find an agent we go back to the good old internet where you can find the right one to fit your book. The alternative route is by using the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook updated yearly to include new companies. Don’t start at A and work your way through to Z. It doesn’t work like that. Your agent is there to put your work out to the right people. It is important to get the right agent for your book. Do your due diligence. Ensure that your cover letter and the chapters you send are as per their specific requirements. If they ask for three chapters and a cover letter to be sent by post, don’t be clever and assume it’s okay to email them it instead. It won’t work.
Your opening letter is important. Research what they require, and learn how to set it correctly. Best Book Editors can write your cover letters, synopsis and author bio for you don’t fall into the trap of telling a potential agent, ‘This is the best book you’ll ever read. It will make you cry’ Or, ‘Prepare for the thrill of your life.’ And don’t leave them with hooks and cliffhangers, ‘Read this thrilling book to find out what happens next.’ Or, ‘What happened to the man who saw the grey ghost in the long corridor?’ All common mistakes that new writers make and ones that are guaranteed to have your letter floating in tiny shreds to their landfill-proportion waste pile. Step 1. Find an agent suitable for your work. Step 2. Research what they require from you. Step 3. Get an agent.
Choosing to self-publish has its advantages. Once you have followed the 12-Step Program to Self-Publishing and have pressed the magic Publish button, your book can be live and available to buy in both ebook format and paperback in less than 24-hours.
Taking the traditional route is a slow process. A book deal is rare and only the very good and the very lucky ever see one. If you are taken on, it can take between one and two years before your book hits the bookshelves. Oh, but to have that luxury.
There is no right way to publish a book. You have options and it’s up to you to choose the one that best suits you. Being an author is like being a snake charmer. Very few people know how, very few make the effort to try, and even fewer live to talk about it. Writing a book is a huge achievement and one you should be very proud of. I bet you are the only person, in real life, that you know who has written a book.
Whichever route you go down to get your book into print and ebook format, know that it isn’t easy. Unless you have all the elements and technical abilities in the 12-step program of publishing to do it all yourself, it’s going to cost you. Best Book Editors keep their prices low to accommodate every market and have a large indie client base.
For first time authors, the process is daunting, don’t give up. You’ve written every one of those words. You’ve edited until your eyes bleed. You owe it to yourself to make the final steps towards holding your first copy or your first book in your hands. By the time you hit your tenth novel, it will be child’s play.
Every book deserves to be published—but first, every book deserves to be good.
Katherine Black / Susan (Sooz) Simpson
Founder of Best Book Editors
Katherine has held almost every single job imaginable, from painting gnomes to zookeeper. She spent most of her life in the caring profession and has managed both a nursing home and a care agency. But her passion for the written language always brings her home to novel writing.
Born in Tyne-and-Wear, North-East England, she has settled in the beautiful Lake District, Cumbria, with her partner, two dogs, a cat, an iguana and a python (just don’t ask her which of those six things is her favourite!).
She specialises in content creation and social media outreach, and has been a developmental editor for hundreds of clients. She owns and operates bestbookeditors.com where she helps foundling authors polish their skills. However, after being diagnosed with a dramatic brain condition in 2022, she has had to let 23 staff go, and scale back the business. BBE is still very much open, we are just fewer and can’t take as much work on.
Katherine Black is the author of psychological thriller/detective/fantasy adventure novels.