Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Getting a Book Published 101

Every writer dreams of a book signing at Barnes & Nobel with strangers standing in line for an autographed copy. Please don't wake me up! Today you sit at a computer with an idea in hopes that one day you'll sit in a book store signing your book? How do you get from here to there? I've blogged about this before, so check my previous posts. Today I give some more thoughts because last week I was asked twice, "How do I get my book published?"

1. Go to a Writer's Conference. They are all over the USA, so google and find the one that best meets your needs.

2. Learn how to write a query letter and a book proposal. The best place to learn this is guess where? Right! A Writer's Conference. You can also learn this online. www.MichaelHyatt.com is a great resource for learning the publishing business.

3. Get an agent. How? Go to a writer's conference or mail your query and your proposal to an agent. But, at a writer's conference the agent meets you face to face, realizes you aren't a serial killer, and your opportunities for a contract increase. Plus, attending a writer's conference demonstrates your commitment to invest in your career. Red flag any agent who wants you to pay them. A legitimate agent receives a percentage of your advance and your royalties. They receive nothing until they sell your book to a publisher. If an agent asks for money upfront, please flee.

4. Get published in a magazine or in a book compilation. Book publishers want to see some sort of resume. Start with articles. How do you do that? Well, you'll never guess. I sold my first article to "Salvation Army War Cry" and had 8 small devotionals published in Penned From the Heart
when I met the editors at Montrose Christian Writer's Conference. Am I making a point?

5. Obtain a copy of "Writer's Market." This is a thick book published each year with lists of magazines, book publishers, and other markets where you can sell your writing. All libraries should have it, so take a look.

6. Read, read, read. Read books in your genre. Read books on writing. Two books I try to read every year are: "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser, and "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White. "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott and "Run With the Horses" by Eugene H. Peterson are great encouragers to writers--and we all need encouraging. This is not an easy business.

7. Write, write, write. Write everyday and, thereby, hone your craft. You don't have time? Do you have an hour? Write an hour a day. Or, write a page a day. The average book has 120 pages. Your first draft is finished in 120 days if you write only one page a day.

8. Develop a platform. Publishers want writers who can sell their product. Start speaking on the subject of your book. Blog. Create a website. Become an expert in social networking. Just today I listened to a radio interview, made a comment on facebook about the interview, and the person being interviewed wrote back asking to interview me. Networking sells books. Publishers like authors who can sell books.

9. Educate yourself. The internet is filled with tips for writers. I try to read something every day that will make me a better writer.

10. Join a Writer's Group. The creative energy in a room full of writers is contagious. They will see things in your writing that you missed. I blogged about this previously.

"Marketing Your Ministry" and "A Writer Speaks" are two classes I teach at writer's conferences. For $5 each plus $2.50 shipping, I'll send you a CD and email you the notes that went with the class. That could be your first step in educating yourself. Comment below or send an email to SplashesofSerenity@yahoo.com if you would like to purchase a CD.

Remember, writing is not about ego. Writing is a calling. If God wants your book in print, it will happen. Our job is to do it as unto the Lord and put forth our best writing and the greatest product so lives will be transformed.

Enjoy your journey! It's hard work. Some days are discouraging. But, the first e-mail that arrives saying your book changed a life makes it all worth it. I hope to see you at Barnes & Noble--I'll be first in line!

Any questions? Please ask. I'd love to help you.

I'm also interested in any books you've read that have helped you become a better writer. Let me know please.

That's my Splash of Serenity for writers today.



  1. Practical and great list! That's just one of the many reasons I love ya!!! :O)

  2. Thank you for this, Elaine. I do much better with very tangible and practical things and this was a wonderful list. Now I just need to find time to actually write! ;-)

  3. Diane and Terri, Your sweet comments are why I love you too (or is that two?) Could be either. That's why I read Strunk and White's every year. Looking forward to the day I am blessed by your books. So glad God allowed our paths to cross in this life. Hugs and blessings

  4. Thank you Elaine! Another wonderful blog! I will join you in the importance of attending a writer's conference. As I look back at the way God has worked in my life since July 2010 when I attended my first conference, I could tear up with joy. I learned so much and have dedicated the time to write for Him, and put into practice all I learned. I'm looking forward to attending a larger conference in August, I have kidded my husband, "I'll need Tylenol for the headache brought on by overload of valuable information!" :) Thank you for sharing all you have learned in down-to-earth terms.

    Lisa :)

  5. Philly will be a whole new experience, Lisa. Praying you make the right contacts. Excited and honored to share this journey with you.

  6. Great practical advice! Thanks for being so willing to encourage others in the process. I would love to order 2 sets of your CDs to pass around to my friends! thelossingfamily@gmail.com Blessings to you!

  7. Hi Beth, Thrilled to send you the CDs! Thank you. I know God gave you a story that no one else can tell. You must write it when the time is right. Meanwhile, keep learning about writing and especially about God and His will for your life. Love you, dear niece. Aunt Elaine

  8. Great tips Elaine. For me the biggest two are: write every day and join a writer's group. Those are musts for me!


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