5 Top Tips to Help You Make the Transition from Self-Publishing to Traditional Publishing
Although we are living in a more DIY world than ever, as an author, a great sign of recognition remains being published by a traditional publishing house. The benefits of making it into a big publishing house go beyond marketing strategies and financial proof of your work. You get to increase your network, work with people that dedicate their lives to talent scouting and have a credibility boost that opens doors to writing opportunities that rarely present themselves to self-published authors.
In this article we will help you debunk the myths that grew around getting your first manuscript published and we will provide you with actionable steps to get it done.
When you decide it is time to make the greatest step as a writer and get published by a traditional publishing house, make sure you have a finished product. You might think that a chapter or two will do at first, but when you are new to the game and have no proven sales, publishers will tend to dismiss your project in a heartbeat.
The world is filled with people that have ideas. Be more than that, have a finished project to show. This is the proof that you can get things done and that you can work in a timely manner. Also, even if you are making your first attempt to get a book deal, present a polished product.
Your manuscript is a reflection of you – it should be grammatically correct, in a clean file and more than just a draft. Your first and second drafts should remain for your eyes only, when you start pitching your book, make sure you present to the world your best work possible.
2. Be realistic in your expectations
For this one you might have to rip a page out of J.K. Rowling’s book. Have no fear; your beloved Harry Potter stories are safe. You just have to carefully read how her success came to life. All she had in the beginning was a great book – a mesmerizing children’s story. No name, no following, no proven past success.
What happened to her manuscript? It was refused again and again and again. The excuses were innumerable – from too long for children to just ‘do not call here again’. So what was left to do for a single mother on benefits? She took it down a notch and got a small publishing house to bring Harry Potter to life.
If all you have is an amazing book, look at her strategy and avoid the unnecessary grief of being rejected time after time by a very big publishing house. Get some traditional publishing credit under your belt by having your work published by a small house first. Then go after the big guys like there’s no tomorrow!
3. Know your public
Selling your idea to a publisher is not the same as getting more readers for your blog. Publishers are well seasoned professionals that deal with hundreds of pitches every month. They have seen it all. Also, they can smell sloppiness and a lack of determination like sharks smell blood in the water.
Going in unprepared is an insult to them, but most of all, an insult to you. In this relationship you have to use reversed thinking – they are the client. You have to choose the right houses to market to, you have to make yourself attractive as a writer and you have to have a great product to sell.
First, pick the right market. Don’t waste your money, time and energy by sending a letter to anybody in the Yellow Pages who has ‘publishing’ in the name. Try to find the small, specialized publishing houses that would have a real interest in reading your manuscript.
Also, please avoid the biggest mistake of all times – sending the same impersonal letter of intent to everybody. Show them that you are worth the risk and you did your research.
When you are building your writer career, you should carefully tend to your audience. You might think that having a big crowd on social media or a big blog following will not help with much, but this is the key in validating the market value of your book(s).
Don’t neglect your web influence. Care for your fans with exclusive material and a rigorous posting schedule. They will help you get a publishing deal and they will provide you with leverage when you negotiate the terms.
Another tip is to do your best to find an audience first, even if there seems to be none. Create a crowd funding project for your book just to stir things up. Even if you don’t hit a spectacular sales number, you will be able to show demand for your book. The bigger the demand, the easier the manuscript will get accepted and published.
5. Use the power of mentors
Another way to get your book into a publishing house is to get it recommended by an established mentor. Think of your network and find somebody that has already been published by the publishing house you are aiming to conquer. If you don’t have those types of connections, remember the six degrees of separation. Between you and any person you would like to reach are only six people. Think of the advantage you would have if you would be able to have your book introduced to the publisher by your favorite author! Write to your mentor. Ask for a simple recommendation for your book. A paragraph of sincere kindness will boost your credibility immensely.
Then hop on LinkedIn and try to find as many connections you can to your publisher. Get introduced to him and your book will stand out. They will see your book in a totally different light; it will not be just another work project that has to be read by a deadline. They will have a personal emotional investment, giving your book a better chance to make it through.
In the end, keep in mind that proactive beats uninterested every time. You might be tempted to believe that getting published by a traditional publishing house is just a matter of sending a manuscript or finding an agent. But in order to make success a certainty, you have to fight tooth and nail. Get your network in shape, polish your book to perfection and boost your social empire before getting in the lions’ den!
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