5 Useful Tips to Help You Publish Your Fiction

By Buck James

Writing fiction can be an extremely rewarding experience. There is nothing quite like crafting a story with characters that seem to jump off of the page. Connecting with readers should always be a major priority whether you are writing a short story or constructing an epic novel. Unfortunately, plenty of talented authors never have a chance to bring their new worlds to the masses. This is mostly due to first-time authors making one or more serious mistakes that can easily be avoided with a small amount of research. There are a few important steps that can help new and intermediate writers to have a solid chance at being published.

Great Authors Write for Themselves

So many aspiring authors tend to start writing out of a need to be famous. This is usually the first mistake made by rookies. Making that special connection with readers is impossible if you are only concerned with fame and fortune. Potential publishers, editors and even agents will also see right through you. Most well-known authors will agree that the most important aspect of creating new and exciting stories is being able to write for yourself. This means that you need to feel the same enjoyment from reading one of your works as a potential reader. It also means that your main goal in writing must be to satisfy an insatiable urge burning inside of you to create art. Be honest with yourself and the success will likely follow.

Organization is Key

Everyone has a different process of preparation when they sit down to create. Just remember that proper organizational skills are crucial to success. Have your research documents filed in a way that allows for easy access when needed. Make sure that you know exactly what needs to be accomplished during each session. Many writers also set a goal for word count that has to be met before quitting for the day. Others set aside a certain number of hours to write and then stop when that time is up. Find out what works best for you, and make sure that you stick with it.

Always Submit Your Best Work

Many rookie authors feel inclined to show publishers and agents every piece of work that they successfully finish. This is never a good idea. Major and independent publishing houses receive thousands of submissions from hopeful writers each year. Yours needs to stand out in the crowd to have even a small chance at being noticed. Make sure that you have a solid body of work under your belt before thinking about publication. Even if you do manage sell most of your work, you might regret allowing those early pieces to see the light of day. Proofread all of your stories to make sure that they are free of errors. Have an editor look at your best pieces before submitting them to publishers. Writers who are unable to afford editing services will need to carefully correct their own mistakes. Acquiring a style guide to help with the writing and editing processes can be extremely helpful.

Finding an Agent

Hiring an agent is quite useful for writers who are serious about their work. It is also necessary in some markets. Fantasy and Science Fiction are the only markets that typically allow unsolicited manuscript submissions. Even then, finding an honest agent is still recommended before signing a publication contract. Agents are instrumental in finding a buyer for your fiction. They will work tirelessly to get your manuscript out to publishing houses until all avenues are exhausted. While a few agencies tend to charge small fees for making copies and mailing out manuscripts, there are plenty of professionals who take only a small percentage of royalties from your book sales. Agents are inclined to sell your work since that is the sole way that they earn income. Grab a current copy of Writer’s Market or check your local bookstore for more information on finding a reliable agent.

Submitting to the Correct Market

Incorrectly gauging available markets is another rookie mistake that is made quite often by beginners. It is important to research publishing houses before sending them your manuscript. Fantasy houses like Tor or Wizards of the Coast are probably not interested in reading your mainstream literary works. Read a few books from each publisher being considered to make sure that your fiction is a good fit for what they typically release. It is also a good idea to thoroughly check submission guidelines beforehand to prevent any other issues from occurring. Some markets require a cover letter to be sent along with several chapters of your story. Other markets simply ask that you send the entire manuscript to them along with an attached cover letter. These guidelines are in place to weed out unprofessional writers. Following instructions to the letter shows that you are serious about taking your craft to the next level.

A great deal of patience and perseverance always goes a long way in the writing community. Take time to ensure that the finished product is a direct representation of your talents. Never present anything less than your best work to agents or publishing houses. No one will ever take you seriously if you are unprepared to put your best foot forward. Use these tips as a guideline for future success, and your chances at being recognized by the pros will increase exponentially. Continuing to hone your craft and seeking out the correct markets will prove to be key steps in bringing your fiction to millions of excited readers through both independent and major retail outlets.