Getting Published in 15 Steps: From Querying to Book Deal

Photo credit: derivativeofcourse on Flickr
So a (long) while ago I wrote a post about 15 steps to writing a novel, from the initial idea, to starting the query process. However, as many of you know, starting the query wars is really just the beginning to the whole trying to get published thing.

So I figured I’d continue.

Do note that this really only applies to traditional publishing. If you’re self-publishing you don’t need an agent (though some self-publishers are very happy with their agents) and your steps will be very different.

  1. Query agents. Oh, the joys of the query trenches. This is where writers agonize over writing the perfect query letter (and hopefully don’t do this or this), critique the hell out of them, then press send and…well…

  2. Try not to check your e-mail every five minutes. And, if we’re being honest, probably fail to resist. 

  3. Receive rejections. Rejections are inevitable. I did this thingie with query statistics last year, but the short version is this: rejections are 100% normal and expected. And they suck. But you are absolutely not alone. 

  4. Distract yourself with another project/lots of reading/TV/ice cream. Working on another project while you’re querying can be a great motivation booster/emotional bandaid/ super productive distraction. I highly recommend it. It’s also a great time to catch up on your overflowing TBR pile, gorge on ice cream and (try to) relax a bit. 

  5. Get requests. YAY! Requests are exciting. And nerve-wracking, because after you send you have to wait again. But go you! Go requests! Make sure you celebrate and enjoy this happy, super-exciting step. 

  6. Receive rejections. Of course, rejections do sometimes (oftentimes) come in after requests, too. These suck even more than the query rejections, but they too are part of the process. But remember, you only need one yes.

    That being said, sometimes you’ll go through the query process and this is the step where it’ll end. You’ll receive rejections and more rejections and your list of possible agents will run low and you may have to ask yourself if it’s time to move on. And sometimes, the answer will be yes. But the thing to remember is it’s okay. I had to go through this five different times before I finally got my fantabulous agent. It happens, it’s normal, and it’s hard, but if you don’t give up and keep writing new projects and querying said projects, eventually…


  8. Edit your book (again). This step actually depends on your agent—some agents are editorial and will go through several rounds of editing with their clients to make sure their manuscripts are as shiny as can be before going on submission, while others or not. There’s no right or wrong as far as this goes, it’s just preference, and if you know which you’d prefer, make sure you research ahead of time and query the right ones. 

  9. Go on submission. Oh, the joys of being on submission. It’s kind of like querying again, except this time your agent is in your corner, which is pretty awesome. You are, however, doing a lot of waiting…

  10. Try not to check your e-mail every five minutes. Boy, this sounds familiar. Oh, is that an e-mail? 

  11. Receive rejections. Sadly, you do not leave rejections behind when you finish querying. They’re still very much a part of the submission process, and will continue to be every time you go on submission again (did I mention you’ll be repeating this step with close to every book you write? YAY). 

  12. Distract yourself with another project/lots of reading/TV/ice cream. Not unlike query distractions, working on a new project is a golden way to focus your energy on something productive and hope-making. Reading and TV and ice cream are also winners. 

  13. Get requests. And dance with your agent! Because yay! ALL THE REQUESTS. 

  14. Receive rejections. And be sad with your agent because rejections still are un-fun. Sometimes, like querying, this will be the final step for that particular manuscript. The fact of the matter is, not all writers debut with the book that got them their agent—and that’s totally 100% okay. It’s hard, and not fun, and massively disappointing, but it does happen, and if it happens to you? You are absolutely not alone.

    Work on your next book. Edit it to awesomeness. Go out on submission again. Until…


Twitter-sized bite: 
How to get published, from querying to the book deal, condensed into 15 steps. (Click to tweet


Danielle said...

Very helpful! I loved your one for the "15 Steps to Writing a Novel" too. :)

Glynis Jolly said...

I haven't tried something like a synopsis yet. As a pantser I keep on writing hoping it all fits together. However, I do define my main characters before I start writing so that it's easier to see them in my head. When I think of ideas I want to corporate into the story while I write it, I do write notes so that the ideas keep their original form.

Ava Jae said...

The pre-writing synopsis is very new to me (I gradually moved from pantsing to plotting over the course of several years), so I totally get that. Most writers don't do the synopsis until after the book is done (for querying/publishing purposes), but I definitely recommend you give it a go for brainstorming sometime if you ever want to try out plotting. :)

Glynis Jolly said...

Do you think it might be a good alternative to plotting for those of us who aren't into plotting or aren't ready for it? I was thinking it may be a good way to define the 3 major parts of the story -- beginning, middle and end. Of course, doing this would mean leaving out the actual conclusion to the story.

Or am I off my rocker?

Glynis Jolly said...

I need to try it for this reason, myself, Jen. I have a story that I really want to see to the end, but I keep on getting stuck.

Glynis Jolly said...

I like your idea, Jim, though I think I'd have to start with a summary of the entire story first, the synopsis.

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