By Ruth Barringham
When I first began my publishing business I used to accept book manuscripts from authors.
This was back in the day before digital publishing so every book had to be printed and shipped all over the world.
And you’d think that with so many authors competing for publication, that they’d follow instructions for submitting their manuscripts and only send their best work.
You’d think so, wouldn’t you?
Well you’d be wrong.
And that was why I only ever published a book from one other author who I had to eventually stop working with because of difficulties.
So here are a few things to consider if you want to send your book manuscript to a publisher to better your chances of being published.
And even if you want to self publish your books, these guidelines will still help you to sell more books.
Don’t think that everything you write is gold. It’s not.
So before you close the envelope or hit send, make sure that your writing is good and that the format of your material is professional. I used to have to throw whole manuscripts in the bin unread because they were covered in food stains and coffee cup rings so I didn’t even want to touch them.
If you have any doubts about your work, take another look at it and completely rewrite it if you have to.
You’ll know if your work is good because you’ll feel good about it.
I had one writer who sent me a manuscript and when I read it I told them that their idea was great but the whole manuscript needed a complete rewrite (it was full of typos and grammatically incorrect sentences). They emailed me and said that their job was only to write the manuscript and that it was up to me to edit it and make it readable.
That is definitely NOT how it works.
Publishing companies don’t publish all kinds of different books. They are usually only interested in certain subjects or genres.
So don’t send your self help book manuscript to a publisher that only publishes horror novels.
Choose your publisher carefully and take time to look them up on the internet to see what they are currently looking for. Just because they publish certain books doesn’t mean they are always looking for them.
Some publishing companies even have different windows of time to read certain subjects. So if you’ve written a romance novel and the publishing company only reads romance manuscripts between January and March every year, don’t send yours to them in August.
And don’t dictate terms. Publishers choose authors, not the other way around. I had one author who sent instructions that her manuscript wasn’t to be changed in any way. She wanted no editing done to it whatsoever. She said I had to publish it exactly the way it had been written. I immediately put the manuscript in my used paper collection.
A USP means Unique Selling Proposition. In other words, what makes your book better than any ever written on the same subject.
What is unique about your book that makes it different.
This is where you “sell” your book. Say what is really great about it and how the reader will benefit from reading it. Even if it’s a fiction book you can say how it will have the reader laughing hysterically or it will move them to tears.
This is the kind of thing that you read on the back cover blurb of many books.
This means knowing ten ways that you are going to market your book when it’s published.
Publishing companies only market the books of their big name authors. All the rest are expected to do it themselves.
So they don’t only want to read your manuscript they want to know how you’re going to sell it for them.
So write the numbers one to ten down the left hand side of a page and list the ways you’re going to get the word out to the whole world about your new book.
You can’t market your book unless you know who you’re going to be marketing it to.
Not only do you need to know your market but it also has to be a hungry market, people who will be dying to get hold of a copy of a book like yours.
- Who is your target reader?
- Where can you find them to make sure they see your marketing material?
- What can you tell them to make them want to read your book?
Even if you plan on self publishing your books, these 4 processes will help you maximise your sales.
Even the section on finding an appropriate publisher will help because, if you plan on writing a lot of books, and you should, then you need to decide on what subject you want to write about or in what genre.
Because once someone reads one of your books, they’ll enjoy it so much that they’ll want to read another.
And if they’re all on the same subject or same genre they’ll be interested to read more from you.
If you want to write books for a living, you won’t go wrong by following this publishing advice.
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