The saying goes ‘everyone has a book in them’, and these days it really is possible to get published as there are multiple routes to seeing your book in the shops.
The traditional way to get your book published is via a literary agent like myself, who’ll endeavour to find you a publisher. Then there’s the self-publishing route, which is becoming increasingly popular and gives you ultimate control of your publishing journey. If you self-publish on Amazon, eBook sales can also be far greater than sales of a physical book and financially very lucrative.
Reading is such a subjective business and the digital marketplace means that the traditional gatekeepers are no longer blocking the way to publication. There’s a wealth of information online and in publications such as The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, an excellent source of literary agents you can approach and what genres they represent, updated each year.
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If you’re reading this, you may be in the process of writing a book or you have written a book and are trying to get published. Agents prefer writers to have completed a manuscript before they consider representation, but initially we’re only assessing the first three chapters and a pitch, so these need to give us a good sense of your story. If you’ve written a first draft and have read it out loud without wanting to skim any passages(!) then this is the time to start sending it out to agents, but research them carefully.
The key to finding a good match is by submitting to agents who represent authors writing in a similar space to you, or who are actively building their lists and are on the lookout for new talent. Are you able to list two or three established authors writing in a similar space? Successful writers tend to be avid readers with a greater sense of who they are writing for. Some have drawers full of unpublished short stories and manuscripts that never found a publisher, but no word is wasted… they were honing their craft.