From Inception to Publication – The Novel Journey
Last time I listed down seven pointers that should help an aspiring writer in the process of starting and completing a book. What happens once your book is complete? Get it published, of course! So, I’ll familiarize you with certain aspects of the publishing process that you may have to follow in ‘your pursuit of delight’, that would come from watching your book adorn the book shelves in stores. The task ahead is daunting and some may say insurmountable, but breaking the process down in to manageable steps may help you get over the bridge.
Polish your Novel: Now that your novel is complete, you need to begin polishing it. My belief is that the first draft written usually is the best but then polishing helps you smooth out the rough edges. Take the help of your ‘readers group’, if you are part of any in reviewing your work and adding those suggestions to tweak your book as necessary.
Query Letter: You already have a synopsis if you followed my advice from the last post. Now, another task that awaits you is preparing your ‘Query Letter’. This document will be your first contact with potential agents and publishers. It needs to be concise. Most publishers have a format which should guide you through their technical bit. However, few pointers to keep in mind are that the letter shouldn’t exceed a single page and should contain all relevant data for your novel like the word count, the genre, and your own experiences that would help your case (any published material, literary praise etc.) apart from a very short summary that brings out the essence of your novel.
Agents: It is difficult for a novice to directly get in touch with a publisher. They usually are piled on with work and the only way to reach them is through ‘agents’.
Next step towards realizing your dream is to hunt for a good agent who will get you across the front door. Agents are people who have contacts in the publishing industry and will make the process relatively simpler for you. Ideally, authors list down their agents in the acknowledgement section of their novels. The best method to avoid being duped is to make a list from the books of authors who have written in the genre you are attempting. Contact them and keep a tab of the times you have and their replies.
Persevere: Here too, like in the process of writing, you need to persevere beyond rejections. Agents and publishers get multiple books everyday and it’s a difficult task to pick the winner of the lot. J.K. Rowling was rejected by many publishers and agents before she finally got her chance to bask in the glory of her work. Continue visiting literally circles and get into discussion with other writers in a similar position. It will keep you motivated. Also, don’t just wait for a reply and sit licking your wounds if the novel doesn’t see the light of day. Begin writing something else. Start another novel in the meantime.
You can benefit from this process in learning how to get better. Agents reply to your queries. Generally, the replies are standard but some may include some tips and suggestions. Make sure to make the best use of these and try again.
Get on the road: Once you’ve found an agent who is interested in your work and wants to take it further, you need to switch on to the active mode, once again. Once your agent sends across your manuscript to various publishers, the chances are that there’ll be more than one publisher vying to publish your book. Get back to understanding the history of the publishing houses, their record, meeting the publishers etc. Once you have all the offers, take one that suits you the best.
If at all you fail to get beyond any stage after completing your manual, there is another option that the digital world may have for you- It’s e-publishing. This trend is fast catching on and you could have your book self-published.
However, before taking on this newly constructed path, be sure to do your research and some soul-searching if this is the route you want to take or persevere instead of the traditional road.