Hi, I’m Lucy. I’m an editing bat from here in the cave flying by with some advice on a subject that fills many writers with terror and excitement – getting published. You’ve spent weeks/months/years (delete as appropriate) working on your manuscript and it’s finally reached a point where you need to see it make its mark on the world.
Here at Little Bat Books, we are lucky enough to be connected to lots of interesting writers, as well as having friends in the mainstream publishing industry (us bats get around). Having gained a lot of experience working for one of the UK’s largest independent publishers, I’ve picked up a few tips in my time. Here are some of the big ones.
TIP ONE: The Proof is in the pudding
Read your completed manuscript. Read it often. Don’t stop reading it and fixing it until your dreams are dominated by your own creation, and then carry on reading it. Once you’ve gone through it with a fine-toothed comb yourself, have your eagle-eyed friends read it. Get a variety of people to read it, especially those who owe you nothing. The friends who will tear you down on any minuscule mistake you might’ve made are a great choice because that’s the kind of intense feedback you need.
TIP TWO: Shop ’til you drop
I’ll be brutally honest – if you approach one of the bigger publishers as a first time author without a literary agent, your odds of getting a response are slim at best. Does that mean you shouldn’t try? Absolutely not. In reality, you’re more likely to get a response from a smaller press that typically deals with the type of work you’ve written. If you’re doing this without an agent, it’s important that you’re comfortable and informed before you agree to (or even sign) anything. Publishers who demand an instant response on any offer of publication are probably worth a bit of scrutiny. Conversely, don’t wait too long to inform them of your decision or you might find they’ve withdrawn their offer.
TIP THREE: Follow the rules
Almost every publisher will have a specific process for submitting a book. They may have an online form to download and fill in, or they will have a special email address designated to submissions. Once you have figured out the correct procedure for a submission, make sure to send an interesting and engaging cover letter along with whatever else they’ve asked for. Be sure to check for any obvious grammatical errors in your letter and, if possible, have it checked before hitting send.
TIP FOUR: Patience is a virtue (and a necessity)
Publishers are busy. Imagine the busiest place you’ve seen, and double it. Triple it. Even smaller houses, ours included, can take upwards of a month to respond. It’s nothing personal, it’s simply that there is a constant backlog of submissions to work through. Definitely don’t harass them for a response, but a follow-up email several weeks down the line is unlikely to hurt. (Don’t expect a response to the follow-up either however.)
So there you have it. This is by no means a complete list, and one of the biggest pieces of advice you already know is to keep your skin thick – you will get rejected, probably a lot. So did every author at some point in their careers. Shrug it off, carry on, and keep writing! You never know when that bestseller is coming.
If you’d like to submit to us here at Little Bat Books, information can be found on our Contact page.