There’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment that comes with completing the manuscript of a book. However, as every writer (freelance or not) knows, that’s just the beginning of the journey – publication beckons. Some choose to go the indie route for this, either through self-publishing or smaller-scale publishers.
Then, there are the freelancers who adopt the “go big or go home” attitude, and seek mainstream publication – would you consider yourself in this group? If so, taking note of the following advice could help you to avoid potential publishing pitfalls and serious stress.
Remember to research.
Chances are you’re both exhausted from all those late nights of writing, yet also experiencing an adrenaline work to get your work seen. It’s the latter that can get you into trouble unless you have a great, understanding agent. Why? It’s one thing to make a list of mainstream publishers/literary agencies that you’d potentially like to work with, it’s quite another to actually know what each respective company stands for, and what they will and won’t accept in terms of unsolicited queries.
If you eschew the expense of hiring an agent, and you submit your manuscripts anywhere and everywhere on your own, be prepared to meet with mainstream disappointment – it’s just the nature of the industry. Not only do you need to research publishers, you also have to research competition/trends in your book’s genre – what’s selling, what’s not in terms of both plots and writing styles.
Provide that professional polish.
Now that we’ve discussed what it might be like to try going mainstream without an agent, let’s focus on the more recommended approach of pitching work to agents in the hopes that they’ll accept you as a client. First and foremost, make sure that your manuscript has been edited/revised with as much precision as you can muster – alternatively, you can hire a copyeditor – and then submit it to an agent.
Don’t forget, though, that whether or not you have an agent, you’ll always have to play your part in the marketing process once it’s published. Mainstream means more of an opportunity for a book tour and interviews, so if those options are presented to you, be sure to put your best self forward. After all, you are the physical embodiment of your book’s ideas!
Lastly, although it’s necessary to have a strong sense of self-worth in this business, don’t take it to the point where you’re supremely self-involved. You might have a great book, yet if you take the “this is clearly going to be a bestseller” approach with any potential agent, that’s an immediate formula for, at the most, getting shown the proverbial door, and at the very least a stained working relationship. Be humble, polite, diligent, and authentic, and you’ll be that much closer to your goal of getting a mainstream publishing deal.
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