At the recent indieLAB Conference I attended in Cincinnati, a number of aspiring writers approached me since they knew I was a published author. "How do you get published?" was their query. It's not the first time I've been asked that, and surely not the last. Seems these days everyone's got a book inside them that they want to get before the public.
Well, as a guy who ran a marketing agency, I'm never far from falling back on the USP: unique selling proposition. What about you or your book idea or your completed manuscript makes it stand out against the myriad competitors? If you can figure that out, and then find a way to communicate this in as few words as possible, you're ahead of the game. Then, once you’ve completed your internet search of literary agents and publishers… and when you’ve read their very specific guidelines for submissions (generally beginning with a query letter), I suggest you select a few and start emailing or snail mailing, depending on their instructions. It's a numbers game for sure.
I’ve often compared this process to a job interview. You’re there to get hired. What will make you stand out against the other candidates they’re interviewing? If you can find a way to present you, your personality, your previous track record and what you bring to the table, and shine it with an intriguing light, you may stand a better chance than the next guy. But never forget: you're trying to entice a publisher or agent to invest in you (and that’s what they’re doing, by the way, until you start selling books and making them money). Your job is to get them to think you are superior to the other candidates waiting in line to get a book deal.
At the end of the day, put yourself in their shoes. How can your book make their job easier? Isn’t that what we all seek: maximum gain from minimum pain?
All that being said, getting published has become increasingly difficult for a new author. Publishers (and agents) are backing away from newbies in favour of supporting their existing stable of writers. Less risk. I was very fortunate that I had connections at the company that published my first book ("Shark Assault: An Amazing Story of Survival") that set me up to talk directly with the company's CEO and get a publishing deal as a result. Don't think I shy away from regularly acknowledging how luck paved the way! (But I also regret their lack of interest in supporting their authors that has sent me soliciting other publishers... another story for another day).
Hi there. I've written 6 books so far and am working on others. Feel free to comment