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Write on, Wednesday: An Assistant Editor SharesSteps to Getting Published with

By Leslie Lindsay

She came flying into our meeting last night a few minutes behind schedule, but it wasn’t because of the parking problem the rest of our members experienced, “Oh, I got a spot right in front,” she chirped.  With her tall silver heels and an energy that got us all excited about the possibility of traditional publishing, Kelly Bale, assistant editor at Sourcebooks in Naperville, IL took us through the steps of getting published.

As an editor, her first three questions are these:

  1. Is it any good?  The writing needs to grab me.  Period.
  2. Will it sell?
  3. Does it work for this publishing house?

Okay… let’s say that all of those criteria are a ‘yes.’  Now, here’s what you as a writer can do to  improve your chances of landing a contract:

  • Write a darn good proposal (non-fiction) or a query letter (fiction)
  • Do your research.  Know your writing category well.  Are you writing romance or women’s fiction?  Do you know the difference?  Are you writing thrillers or mysteries?  Historical fiction?
  • Now do some competitive category research.  What is selling well in that field?  Titles?  Authors?  Where does it rank on Amazon’s list?  Talk to librarian’s, especially if you are intersted in breaking into the Children’s genre.  What are the oft-requested books?
  • Provide a stellar author bio.  “As a writer, who are you?”  Do you have great life experience that gives you credentials to write this book?  Do you blog regularly?  Do you often post as a guest on other blogs?  Do you have any major affiliations?  Do you publish in trade or professional journals? Do you lead groups or speak regularly?  Are you into Twitter?  Do you have followers?  How many?
  • If you are writing fiction, then provide a detailed synopsis.  This should be about 1-3 pages and take the reader/editor from beginning, middle, and end of your book.  Let it all hand out.  Editors want to know how it will end.  Most editors will read the first 50-100 pages of a work of fiction before deciding if they like it.  They simply don’t have the time to read all of it right then.  Give them the ending now.
  • If you are writing non-fiction, you need to flush out all of the details on what you plan to write in a well-written, polished 20-30 page proposal.  
  • Include some ideas for marketing.  Creative, out-of-the-box ideas is what they want to hear.  They’ve  got “Oprah” and “The Today Show” covered.  Everyone knows you want to end up there at some point.  Don’t talk about how this could be the next blockbuster hit, either.  But do come across as an active partner in promoting the book.  Will you help to actively sell your book once it’s out?  How?
  • Offer your career plan as a novelist/writer.  Putting the cart before the horse?  Not really.  Not if you are serious, anyway.  Do you see this book as having a sequel, being part of a series?  If not, no biggie…but what do you want to do with your writing career?  Do you have other books in  mind?  Mention them.
  • And remember, you don’t have to be perfectly perfect…after all, if your writing came in super-polished, what work would the editor have?!?

So, what are you waiting for?!  Write on, Wednesday!

For more information, www.sourcebooks.com


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