How to get my book published
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Before you put your feet up on your desk and start eating bonbons you may want to read on. If you've just completed your manuscript, you might believe that was the hard part and the bulk of your work is now finished. We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but you have a long road ahead of you. If you haven't found a publisher yet, your work has just begun. But don't worry, you're not alone. We're here to guide you every step of the way.  At you can benefit from the experience of those who have already muddled their way through the daunting task of getting published.  One thing you should know is that there is no right or wrong way to go about this task. While some may tell you otherwise, this is simply not true. 

You basically have two options: 
1) Go the traditional publishing route 
2) Self Publish. 
In this article we will address the issue of publishing through a traditional publisher. 
If you decide to publish traditionally you'll need to decide whether to get an agent, or pitch your book yourself.  Depending upon the publisher you would like to work with, you may not have a choice since some publishers absolutely will not accept manuscript submissions sent directly from authors. The best way to decide who you'd like to work with is to see who is publishing books similar in nature to your manuscript.  You can check out books by genre online, or better yet, at your local bookstore or library.  - Now understand, we're talking about a pie-in-the-sky scenario here.  Not everyone can waltz in and decide they want to publish with XYZ publishing and get their wish. It simply doesn't work that way.  But it never hurts to start big and dream bigger.  
So say you've created a list of your dream publishers, the A League if you will.  Now you can go online and check out each publisher's website for their specific manuscript submission guidelines.  Many, if not all, of your top picks will state that they do not accept unsolicited manuscripts (this is the norm in the highly competitive world of publishing). Some of these publishers may still allow you to send a query letter without agent representation, so make sure you take the time to find out.  If a publisher does not accept unagented work and you have your heart set on getting in the door with that publisher, it's time to get an agent. But say you find one or two publishers willing to accept a manuscript submitted directly by you, the author.  This is a rare opportunity, and one which you do not want to take lightly. Now it's time to do a little homework.  Read their manuscript submission guidelines.  Then read them one more time for good measure to make sure you don't miss anything.  

It's imperative that you take the time to learn each publisher's unique set of expectations. When a publisher willingly accepts manuscript submissions, they invariably receive mountains of them, which they then must sort through. The last thing you want to do is give a publisher any reason to weed out your manuscript before ever considering it based upon its true merit. If a publishing house states that manuscripts submitted to them must be double spaced and yours is not, they will most likely toss it out.  If their website instructs you to send in hard-copy, (printed and mailed the old fashioned way) then don't assume you can be the exception. Go the extra mile and find out the name of the person to whom you should submit your manuscript.  This can make the difference between you work being considered, or finding its way to the slush pile.

As a general rule of thumb you should never submit a manuscript to more than three publishers at one time.  In some cases, a publisher may state that they do not wish to receive submissions if you are shopping multiple publishers simultaneously.  If they have made this point, then honor that request.  Most publishing houses will state clearly on their website how long it will take before you can expect to hear back from them (if at all). Keep a log of the publishers to whom you've submitted your work and the date upon which you sent your manuscript. This way you won't duplicate your efforts, and you'll know when it is time to count your losses and move on to the next best choice on your list.

At some point you may determine it's time to find an agent.  As with publishers, you'll want to find someone who represents work of your genre.  Occasionally you may find an agent who is willing to accept unsolicited manuscript submissions. But more often than not, they will prefer some sort of prior introduction. This is where making connections through writing groups and attending conferences can prove to be invaluable. Should you have the opportunity to meet an agent at a conference or other function, remember that they are people first and foremost.  Be cordial, do not try to pitch your manuscript at an event.  Politely ask for their business card if the opportunity presents itself and follow up at later time.

When pitching your manuscript to an agent, be respectful of their guidelines for submission. Remember, you are just one of countless others vying for their attention.  Be patient in waiting to hear back.  If an agent tells you to expect a response by a given time and you've not yet heard back from them, you may wish to follow up with an email.  If they inform you they are unable to represent you, you may wish to ask for some constructive criticism or suggestions.  If an agent is not able to represent your manuscript but is willing to share any advice, don't take their comments personally. Just be thankful that they took the time to share their expert opinion with you.

Finally, remember there are countless reasons your manuscript may have been rejected.  Perhaps you need more time to hone your writing skills.  Keep in mind publishers and agents are in this business to make money. Market trends dictate the decisions of agents and publishers.  If publishing your book does not elicit visions of dollar signs, the timing may just not be right for your book.  Don't lose hope, keep writing, and realize that manuscript rejections are a right of passage for authors.  

So, you just finished writing your first book . . .
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