Before I wrote my first book, I had no idea how the publishing process worked. You type “the end” on your manuscript and publication is just around the corner… right?
“The end” of the first draft is the beginning of the truly hard work. Editing.
My first draft was 56,000 words. My final draft before querying is 74,000. I didn’t just sprinkle an additional 18k words on my manuscript and call it a day. I cut, revised, refined, and chopped whole scenes from my book and added so many more new ones that the net was positive 18K.
And what did all those new words accomplish?
- Expanding characters that previously only served as plot devices
- Filling plot holes
- Enriching character arcs
- Adding scenes for gut-punch emotional impact
- Subtle clues for foreshadowing
- Richer world building
- Tightened my writing
But now, I’ve FINALLY finished editing. When I tell that to my family and friends they say,
“Great! When can I buy your book?”
The short answer is: I don’t know.
Here are the hoops I have to jump through first:
Steps to Getting My book published
Step One: Beta Readers ✅
I’m already finished with this step.
Beta readers are people who read books and give feedback prior to the book’s publication. They aren’t editors, just regular folks who like books and can tell you what they liked and didn’t like about your story.
I hired beta readers, both a professional beta reading company and individual freelancers who were well versed in my genre, and got unbiased feedback on my work. This allowed me to give my manuscript the extra polish it needed before moving onto the next step.
Step Two: Find Literary Agent 🚧
This is the step I’m currently on.
A literary agent is the person who connects authors and publishers (specifically, editors at publishers). The agent will facilitate my book deal in exchange for a percentage of the royalties (industry standard is 15%). This person won’t just drop out of the sky. I have to find them by a process called querying.
Some authors will indiscriminately blast out their query letters to a hundred agents in a spray paint approach. I do not do this. I’ve researched each agent I plan to submit to very carefully and will only send out a max of six queries at a time. Here’s how it goes:
- Research agent
- Send materials
- Wait for response (Up to 6-8 Weeks)
- If negative/no response, choose another agent to submit to
- If positive response, send partial or full manuscript
- Wait again
- If offer of rep, interview agent via phone
- Review agent/client agreement
- Make final decision
As you can see, finding an agent can take a REALLY LONG TIME when you are waiting up to two months just to find out if they are interested or not in your work.
Step Three: Book Goes on Submission 📕
Once I’ve found a literary agent and I’ve signed an agreement with them, they will begin the process of submitting my book to publishers. Sometimes before this happens, the agent might ask an author to make significant revisions to their work to make it more *publishable* or *sellable*. If revisions are requested, it can push the timeline out.
Step Four: Publishing Deal 🤝
If a publisher wants the book, they’ll offer a contract and an advance. Lawyers will help negotiate the terms, and the book will start to go through the publication process. This takes a long time… it can be a year from this point before the book is actually available for anyone to buy. During this time:
- Cover is designed
- Final edits completed
- Copyright is filed
- ISBNs assigned
- Publication date set
- Copies of the book are printed
- Physical + Digital versions of the book are sent to distributors
- Marketing plan devised
- Marketing materials created
- Book Tour scheduled (many are virtual including Blog Tours now)
- ARCs sent out to book bloggers and news outlets for advance press
- & more
Hold your horses Candice?!? That stuff might take a whole year you say?!?!
But I’m not going to be sitting on my hands during that time.
I’m only in the querying process right now and I’m already working on writing two more books. The first is a sequel to the YA book I’m currently querying. The second is a contemporary book for the adult market.
That way, once the publishing ball is rolling, I can hopefully overlap them and get to the point where I’m releasing one book per year.
Cool, that doesn’t sound so bad.
Not so fast.
Now comes the bad news.
The overwhelming majority of books that are queried don’t get picked up by literary agents or publishers. Worse yet, even if you do make it that far, not every book that goes on submission gets picked up by a publisher.
I’ve got a very slim chance of getting my book traditionally published, but if you know me, you know small chances of success never deterred me before.
Bring. It. On.
I’m shooting for the moon, and I won’t stop until my books reach the stars.
If you’ve taken the time to read this whole thing, you totally rock and it means the world to me you’ve chosen to share my journey with me. Thank you, and I promise my book will be available for you to read someday. 💖 Trust me when I say, I’m in this thing for the long haul. Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve got my shoes laced up and I’m ready to go!