You wrote your novel. Youâ€™ve edited it. Someone else has critiqued it. The manuscript is now the best possible version of your story. So â€¦ now what? Now itâ€™s time to get published! And now the research begins, again.
Itâ€™s not enough to finish a manuscript (though thatâ€™s a big deal, so make sure you celebrate!). You also need to know who you want to work with and who wants to work with you. Before you start sending anything to anyone, do your homework.
1. Find out who works with your genre. It doesnâ€™t matter how good your historical romance is if you want to work with Jeff Gerke at Marcher Lord Press. Unless it includes aliens or mummies, you need to find someone else. Start by finding agents and publishers in your genre. Two great options:
â€“ Search the Christian Writerâ€™s Market Guide
â€“ Find authors in your genre and see who represents and publishes them
2. Figure out how to contact them. You canâ€™t just mail the same form letter to every agent and editor. Do they prefer e-mail or snail mail? Just a query letter, or a proposal? You need to know what they want, then you need to give it to them.
3. Write, edit, submit. Not your manuscript, your query letter and proposal. You may have written the best manuscript since Moby Dick, but if your query letter has typos and doesnâ€™t follow the agent/editorâ€™s guidelines, theyâ€™ll never read your novel. Just as you did with your manuscript, donâ€™t send out the first draft. Self-edit, and it wouldnâ€™t hurt to have someone else look at it. Make sure your work sparkles so people will want to read more!
No one can help you find the right agents/editors to contact. Youâ€™ll have to figure that out for yourself. There are, however, lots of great resources for query letters and proposals. Stay tuned for some tips on those.
Have you done your research yet? How did you find your agent/editor?