Traditional Publishing FAQs | Author Toolbox Blog Hop

Posted by on Aug 16, 2017 in #AuthorToolboxBlogHop, FAQ | 12 comments

Traditional Publishing FAQs | Author Toolbox Blog Hop

In regard to the writing industry, one of the areas I am questioned about the most is the arena of publishing. People often ask if they should publish traditionally or independently (see my post about that here) and how they should go about becoming traditionally published should they choose that route. If you’ve decided traditional publishing is for you, and you want to know how to get started, I recommend four things:


1.  Build your on-line platform

At its most basic, this means develop an on-line presence. You must have a web page, preferably with a blog, but focused mainly around displaying your novel. If your novel is not front-and-center on your web page, then you need to reformat it. You are a writer—you sell stories. Everything else is bonus.

In addition to a web page, you want a strong presence on at least two forms of social media. Facebook and Twitter are common, as are Tumbler, Instagram, and WattPad. (If you are a writer and you don’t know about WattPad, you need to check it out. Major potential to build a following there.)

What if you’re not published yet? It’s never too early to get started. As a matter of fact, starting now will give you an advantage when your book finally hits the market. All of your social media followers will be more likely to purchase your published work so, viola, instant sales numbers!

The thing to keep in mind about an on-line platform is interaction. Don’t try to do everything, because you can’t, but also because this will spread you too thin. Pick two or three social media forums to master, then interact with others (I can’t emphasize this enough). Prospective editors are looking for the number of potential buyers your social media followers represent. It does no good to have followers in the thousands if they are not interested in purchasing your work. Demonstrable interaction with your followers is a huge draw to potential editors because it shows that you will bring a likely return on their investment.

As for what to put on your blog, I’m still learning about that. I’ve read that it’s easier for non-fiction authors because they can continue to blog about the topics of their publications. For fiction authors, however, it’s not quite so easy. If I find a good list of topics to recommend, I’ll let you know, but if you have any suggestions for blog content for fantasy novelists, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.


2. Obtain a copy of the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, published annually by Writer’s Digest. (This is not an affiliate link)

If you publish something else, like poetry, never fear… they have a plethora of different market guides. This is just the one I’m the most familiar with. However, no matter what you write, if you are seeking traditional publication, then you NEED this book in your life. It contains everything: a section of advisory articles about current topics in the publishing industry; a section on how to format query letters and manuscripts for submission to agents and editors; a section on writing competitions; another section on writer’s conferences; and, most importantly, a list of agents and a list of editors who are seeking clients, along with the specifications of how to submit your work to them.

Wait, why did I mention an agent? Do you need an agent? That depends. If, like me, your eyes tend to glaze over when it comes to fine details and deep analysis of numbers, then yes, you need an agent. Also, agents already have an “in” with publishers. They have relationships that allow them to recommend your work, which gives the added bonus of someone beside your mom who loves your work enough to recommend it to someone else. (Don’t worry, I’m not dissing moms. My mom is one of my greatest supporters. She will tell people to by my book before I even think to address the topic. So moms rock, but they are a bit biased…)


3. Follow all formatting guidelines

You are seeking professional publication. Take the time to find out what the professionals want, and tailor your submission to their specifications. This sounds easy, but you would not believe how many people disregard this advice. Trust me: following submission guidelines to the letter will set you apart and get you noticed in a good way.


4. Attend writing conferences

As a writer on a very tight budget, this one is hard for me (see my post about it here). I always struggle about whether or not the cost of a writer’s conference is a necessity or an indulgence. However, for reasons I detail in the a fore-linked post, I believe this step is crucial. Many agents and publishers are beginning not to accept manuscripts submitted from out of the blue. There is such a glut of writing in today’s market, and such an abundance of authors who want to be traditionally published, that a significant number of agents and publishers are only accepting submissions pitched at a writer’s conference.

What if you’re not pitching anything? In my opinion, this is even better because it places you in a position to meet industry professionals with no strings attached. Get to know the agents and publishers as people; build a relationship with them before you pitch to them. This will allow you to obtain insight into their work and what they are looking for without the uncomfortable 15 minute speed-query, which will save you a lot of rejections in the long-run.


This, then, is the list of things I always tell someone who asks me about getting started with traditional publishing. However, this list is not exhaustive! If there are any questions I have not addressed here that you would like me to answer, or if you have any other recommendations, please let me know in the comments below. Happy writing!

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  1. I’ve been traditionally published early in my career. These tips would have helped at the time. Thanks for sharing.

    • My pleasure!

  2. Great tips! The submission guidelines are so tough sometimes. I’ve spent hours on one submission, trying to get it just right. Thanks, Lauricia! 🙂

    • I hear what you’re saying! And the fact that variations between publishing houses can be so minute adds an extra sense of adventure to the experience! 😉

  3. Excellent tips – for all authors. I’m planning to publish independently, but I think your points 1, 3, and 4 are still relevant for indie authors. And instead of 2, they/we need to learn to think and operate like a business.

    I live in New Zealand, and while I have a couple of writer friends who live locally, most of my networking and learning is via social media – via blogs like this, and via Facebook groups.

    I do go to some local writing conferences. I’m off to the Romance Writers of New Zealand conference this weekend. Kristen Lamb is speaking tomorrow (Friday), so I’m hoping to get some great social media tips from that session.

    • You are so right, especially about learning to think of it as a business. That would be the hardest part for me, should I ever choose to go indie. I hope your conference is fabulous!

  4. Social media can be lots of fun and hard work. I live in a remote area so writers conferences aren’t something I can do often – although I’d like to. So online has given me a way to connect with other writers.

    • Online is a great way to start, especially for those of us who are introverts! Plus, the connections made can be built at a deeper level online.

  5. All great ideas on how to get started. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  6. Thanks for the ideas. I have a lot of writing friends who do little or nothing on social media. If nothing else, it’s a great way to connect with other writers.

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