publishing industry can be a maze to authors trying to
learn the ropes, and a writer has enough things to learn
about the art of writing itself without getting lost in
a sea of rules and regulations. So the following are
some ways to navigate through the labyrinth:
1. Knowing how to write a query letter isn’t optional.
query doesn’t just introduce your book, it introduces
you. There are myriad courses and articles on the
Internet which can teach you how to write one of these
jewels, but the three most important things to remember
The opening hook
followed by a short summary of the book;
A little about
yourself and your credentials and
A request to send
in a partial or full.
editor or an agent will appreciate a succinct letter
which delivers a powerful punch, and you will be one
step closer to getting your work noticed.
2. Taking the shotgun approach can work against you.
written one novel, and you’d like to get it out to as
many places as possible. Unfortunately, you receive
sixteen rejections in the space of two weeks, but some
of those rejections might have given you feedback on how
to improve your novel. So if you’ve already sent it out
to all of the places, where do you have left to send it
once you’ve improved upon it?
I’m submitting a manuscript, I usually keep it to
one-three publishers or agents. If I know I intend to
submit to an agent, I do not submit to publishers as
agents like fresh material. This is not to say don’t be
aggressive about sending out your work. Just leave some
doors open so you’re not out of options when you’ve
polished your novel for the seventeenth time.
3. A rejection does not mean you cannot write.
all gotten them. Those form rejections with a polite but
definite no. Well, before you start thinking that you
can’t write or you need to shelve your manuscript and
forget all about your aspirations, think of this: Gone
with the Wind was rejected ninety-nine times before it
was finally accepted. So quite possibly, the publisher(s)
didn’t think it would fit with what they were
publishing, didn’t like it, just didn’t want it, or
perhaps they’d just published something similar to it.
rejection letters don’t tell you very much. So don’t
make assumptions. Just chalk it up to what it is and
move on. Rewrite if you feel it’s necessary, but don’t
accept the first no or even the twentieth as the final
answer. Each rejection brings you closer to an
4. An acceptance doesn’t mean you can.
an offer for publication can be exciting, it is also the
time to know exactly what lies ahead if you choose to
accept that offer.
consumer world, the phrase “caveat emptor” is used to
warn buyers to be careful before they make a purchase.
In the publishing industry, it’s writer beware. Some
publishers are looking for quantity not quality, and
signing with an unknown publisher won’t necessarily
further your career. So take time to check out that
publisher, talk with some of its authors (if it has
any), and make sure this house is one with which you
want to be associated.
5. Patience is a requirement.
turnaround times averaging six to eight months,
publishers are inundated with requests from aspiring
authors who have more enthusiasm than patience. A good
story will sell, but it’s not going to sell any faster
because you e-mail and/or call every month. In fact,
you’re more likely to get a hasty rejection.
6. You should know more about marketing your book than your
knows your work better than you. Yet, most new authors
know little, if anything, about marketing their book so
they’re caught off-guard when the acceptance comes. So
begin your education about marketing now. Attend
conferences and other writing get-togethers to learn
from your fellow authors and read about marketing and
7. You will need to promote your book no matter which publisher you
it sounds strange, but promoting your book isn’t just
your publisher’s responsibility. The book is yours and
so is the job of marketing it. Even the biggest names in
the publishing industry participate in promoting their
novels, and you’ll be expected to do the same, but if
you follow tip number six, you’ll be one step closer to
knowing what to do.
8. Your first sale is only the beginning.
first publishing contract opens up a world of infinite
possibilities, but it can also test your determination
to be an author. This is when you’ll learn whether or
not you have the stamina to withstand possible multiple
editorial changes, editor changes, a flurry of
paperwork, and even rejections from your current editor.
it sounds simplistic, the first sale is the beginning of
your career. Whether or not you stay in this line of
work is up to you.
Burning bridges can affect your career.
publishing, just like in any business, there will be
some bumps in the road. How you navigate your way around
or over those bumps could have a lasting effect on your
career. Even though this is a big industry, the
grapevine still exists. So resolving a problem civilly
and professionally is a requirement.
think resolution when discussing a problem or issue and
be diplomatic, especially if you decide it would be best
to sever ties with your current agent, editor, etc. Of
course, a termination of your contract would be subject
to the terms allowed within the document, but even
though a partnership may not end the way you envisioned,
you can make sure it is put to rest in a proper manner.
Always remember that what you say can hurt you.
10. Learn what it means to be a writer.
every book that’s published, hundreds more are rejected
every day. Will yours be one of them? Probably, at
least at first. Will yours be a breakout hit which will
take the world by storm? Maybe, but in reality, you’ll
go through your fair share of rejections. Many times
over, you’ll wonder why you ever decided to enter such a
tough and tedious field. The answer is simple. Because
you love to write. It’s not just what you do. It’s who
your talent, the creative muscle which allows you to
build a fictitious world or reveal a powerful bit of
knowledge. It’s your never-ending desire to see your
words in print that makes you a writer. Add to that
your zeal for the printed word and the heart-pounding
excitement you get from knowing someone loves what
an aspiring writer can be frustrating, daunting, and
even overwhelming, especially as you try to learn what
is required and just what you’ll have to sacrifice.
Unfortunately, in the publishing industry, there are not
a lot of shortcuts. May these directions help you reach
your ultimate destination.
About the Author:
Dawn Rachel Carrington is the editor-in-chief for
Vintage Romance Publishing. A multi-published author of
fantasy and paranormal romance herself, she currently
writes for Ellora's Cave, Red Sage Publishing, and
Samhain Publishing. She has created and taught courses
for Suite 101 and University for Writers. Additionally,
she is a promotional and business consultant and
non-fiction writer for several online e-zines as well as
print magazines and lectures frequently on the business
To learn more about
Dawn or Vintage Romance Publishing, please visit