You made it through November with your NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) novel completed! You’ve spent the last few weeks reading through it, making changes, and having friends read it.
If you’re really serious, the next step is to track down a book such as the Writer’s Market or the Literary Marketplace. These are the free-lance (if you don’t have a writer’s contract from an employer, you’re free-lance) writer’s Bibles. Whether you are writing a memoir, a magazine article, an indepth research on the history of the Madagascar Lemur Louse, or that spy novel that’s been twisting in the back of your head, this is the book you NEED to read.
Both books are full of information for the beginning and professional writer. You will find encouragement, essays, notes on what to do and how to do it, professional agents who will promote your work and get you published, as well as publishers, what they are looking for, and more importantly, HOW they want you to submit your work. Do not waste the editor’s time by sending them a romance query when they do not publish romance stories. Don’t look like an amateur by submitting an email file when the agent only takes printed copy. Don’t waste your postage sending to a publisher who is not currently accepting new submissions. These books will tell you exactly how to submit your work, and to whom, to get it noticed.
Whether you choose to go a traditional publishing route or create your own published work through Amazon or similar sites, pay the money for a professional to review your work first, even if all you do is pay your child’s teacher to go over it. A professional will correct your spelling, your grammar, and maybe even point out a flaw you didn’t see. They can make your manuscript appear professional and polished, and give you your best shot. If you choose to include testimonials to your work, don’t use quotes from family members. Find someone with even a minimum of credit behind their name, or don’t do it. You want your presentation to be as professional-looking as possible.
Remember, in the publishing industry, money is supposed to flow toward you, never away from you. If you are being asked to put money up front to help with costs, you are being scammed. There is a wonderful site every writer should know: SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America). This page is for all writers, not just fantasy and science fiction authors. It will alert you to the current scams aimed at writers who don’t know better, and take you step by step through what you should and shouldn’t do as a new writer of any genre.
And don’t be discouraged by rejection. It’s not personal. Some publishers receive thousands of submissions per month. Even J.K. Rowling was rejected numerous times before Harry Potter was picked up by Scholastic. Imagine how those publishers feel now!