Magnifying glass on booksGet a Sneak Peek at What We're Looking to Publish

how to get a book published exploring the paths to publication

Most authors, after typing “The End” for the first time on their manuscript, very quickly learn there’s a lot more to the publishing industry than meets the eye. After all,  their cousin is making decent income from the book they published on Amazon, and authors like Steven King and J.K. Rowling have brought publishing into the public eye. Why shouldn't they have that same type of success?

But the deeper they dig, the more there is to learn about the publishing industry, and it turns out there are a lot of ways to get a book published.

Of the different possible options, there are three main paths to publication in the modern age of publishing: Traditional Publishing, Hybrid Publishing, and Self Publishing (also referred to as Author Publishing or Independent Publishing, as the author takes on the additional role of publisher).

Let’s talk about a few of the differences and key parts of the path for these publication options so you can find the right path for you.

Close-up Of A Person's Hand Marking Error With Red Marker On DocumentIf you’re not doing these 5 things, your manuscript risks ending up in the dreaded slush pile.

Book Trail

Publishing, like any industry, is full of its own jargon. When you’re first getting started, knowing a few of these key phrases and acronyms may help you get past those first stages of confusion.

how to get a book published exploring the paths to publication

Submitting your manuscript can be a hard thing to do. It's risky to put yourself (and your work) out there, so before you do, there are a few things you should have to make the process easier.

Whether you’re aiming to submit your book to a publishing house, a literary agent, or moving toward self publishing, there are few things most submission forms have in common. Preparing these items in advance can help you understand your manuscript better and help you and the publishing house when you’re ready to market your book to the world when the time comes, so even if it’s not requested in the submission form, you’ll want to have these items in your arsenal.

best chance at landing a publishing contract

The internet is full of suggestions for how authors can make their work stand out. Some advice is often repeated—grow a platform, develop your craft, spend money on ads, start a blog, start a podcast … The list goes on.

How much of that do you actually need? And when should you start it if you want the best chance at getting published?

We have good news for you. All it really takes to be a good author and get published is to have a really, really, good story.

So why is the rest of that peddled? And why is our own blog full of similar advice?

While it may not be necessary for you to wear every hat possible within the marketing industry to be a successful author, knowing how to market well and developing a fan base early will help you sell more books. So, whether any of it is necessary to get published is highly dependent on what genre you write, what connections you already have, and what you hope for out of your publishing career.

Ready-set-goSometimes, knowing when you're ready to publish is as hard as writing the manuscript. There are always final edits, and you could have a thousand final drafts. (FinalDraft.doc, ReallyFinalDraft.doc, ReallyReallyFinalDraft.doc, OkThisOneIsItFinalDraft.doc.) Sound familiar? Around here, it's our writers' favorite tune.

It's ok. We get it.

You've poured so much energy and love into your work and now you have to ship it off to a printer and send it out into the cold, cold world. You want to do everything you can to ensure its success.

Or, perhaps you're so sick of the darned thing you just want to be done with it. You're tempted to send it in. No. Matter. What.

So how do you know if you're truly ready to publish?

(And Why Editors Move to Goat Farms)

We wish there wasn't so much truth in this infographic about the "heartwarming, only slightly messy, and roughly 74 percent accurate story of how an idea churns through the publishing process." This post from WeldonOwen has been making the rounds in the publishing world online. Thank you for the laugh!

auntiereadinghurts LargeAs an author, you've probably been told time and time again that great authors read great books. You can't write if you don't read. And as an author, you probably always have a book by your bed, one on the kitchen table and another in the living room. Books lined up on shelves, books stacked on the floor, and books intermingled with various pages of your latest manuscript. Image from Auntie SparkNotes

You read for research. You read for inspiration. You read for pleasure.

So what if an acclaimed novelist told you, "Don't read that book"?

About a month ago in a column for The Tyee and in an interview on NPR's Talk of The Nation, that's exactly what Crawford Kilian told aspiring authors.

PrintingPressAs the Senior Editor for a small publishing company, I see a lot of potential books pass through my hands. To be honest, most of the manuscript submissions we receive have great potential. The themes are creative and timely, the information is engaging, and the characters are colorful. But more often than not, the books are simply not ready yet.

The single biggest mistake I see new authors make is to publish a book too soon. And I understand how it happens: You write the final line, share the manuscript with a few close friends and family, receive adoring reviews, and then proceed to submit the manuscript for publishing because you think there's nothing more to be done. Then, you wait. And wait. And wait some more. But the call never comes.

Seal StandardsChecklist

To give both authors and book industry professionals an at-a-glance method by which to gauge the professional presentation of a book, the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) – ibpa-online.org – has released a 2-page Industry Standards Checklist for a Professionally Published Book. The checklist is broken into two sections, content and production, and provides an unbiased measure by which to critique published books.

As part of the IBPA Advocacy Committee, Senior editor Elizabeth Turnbull helped write the checklist alongside committee chair Brooke Warner of She Writes Press, committee member Karla Olson of Patagonia Books, and Angela Bole, CEO of IBPA. 

Think Again!

By Nancy Panko, Author of Guiding Missal

After ten years of researching, writing, resting, and repeating the process over and over, my book Guiding Missal was published. One of my crowning achievements as a human being and a writer was also one of the most difficult things I’d ever done. I had yet to find out that there was more hard work to come. 

Throughout the process, I diligently followed the “Author Pre-Publication Checklist” laying a lot of groundwork on which to build. You have probably all done the same basic work now that you are a published author but if you haven’t, perhaps you may want to download that list.

How are audiobooks changing the publishing industry? What is involved in the production of an audiobook? What is it like for an author to have her book narrated by someone other than herself? This month we interview author Kate Rademacher and audiobook narrator Becket Royce about their experience collaborating on the production of Following the Red Bird: First Steps into a Life of Faith. If you have any questions you'd like to ask our authors, make sure to leave a comment on our Facebook or Twitter!

Thank you for joining us for this month’s blog about the production of audiobooks. Can you both introduce yourselves?

Kate: My name is Kate Rademacher. I published my debut memoir, Following the Red Bird: First Steps into a Life of Faith, in mid-2017. The audiobook version, which was narrated by Becket Royce, was released in March 2018. Following the Red Bird is the story of my very unexpected conversion to Christianity, and how I began to understand what it means to be a Christian in the first year after my baptism. I like to say that the book explores not only the why of Christianity but the how.

Becket: I'm Becket Royce, and I was very pleased to have been chosen as the narrator Following the Red Bird. Most of the audiobooks that I've narrated are fiction, so I really enjoyed the challenge of narrating the words and thoughts of an actual human being! I'm honored to be a part of this project.