The Novel Publishing Process
By Jeanne Lyet Gassman
In my experience
(others may disagree), fiction is much harder to market than
non-fiction. If you're planning to try to market your novel, you need to
do at least one or more serious edits on the piece before you even begin
the query letter process to find an agent or a publisher.
This is the general way
the process of publishing a novel works today:
1. You complete
a first draft.
2. You rewrite
the darn thing anywhere two to twenty times, depending on your skill and
mastery of the form. At some point during this step, you should also
seek feedback from other writers with more experience who can spot
structural problems, plot issues, pacing problems, etc. You don't
necessarily need to hire a book doctor per se. A lot of times you can
get this kind of help from a writing class, workshop, or good critique
3. When you have
the entire ms. as polished as you can make it, you draft a query letter
to send to agents and publishers. You also begin to do some research on
finding the right agent or publisher. This query letter is your primary
marketing tool. It must sell you and your book.
5. While you
wait for responses, you whip your synopsis into shape.
6. If you get a
positive response from an agent or publisher, you will usually be asked
to send a partial with a synopsis. Most places want the first three
chapters or the first fifty pages.
7. The agent or
editor loves your sample chapters and asks to see a full manuscript.
Send it out and...
Well, almost-- If you've been accepted by an agent, you've just started
marketing your book. If you've been accepted by a publisher, you're now
caught up in the process of contract negotiations, rewrites, and
marketing plans. An agent can be the buffer for all of these and help
you get a better contract most of the time.)
10. Book hits
the stores. Now you can celebrate!
I'm not trying to
discourage you, but I did want you to understand how important it is to
have your novel letter perfect before you approach an agent or
publisher. That single effort can save you lots of time and frustration.
Now go rescue that
novel from your documents folder. It's calling to you!
Jeanne Lyet Gassman
is an award-winning author and instructor whose fiction, creative
non-fiction, and poetry have been published in magazines, newspapers,
In 2002, she was the
recipient of an Encourage-ment Award in Creative Writing from the
Arizona Commission on the Arts.
In addition to her
writing, Jeanne teaches writing classes and workshops in the Phoenix
metropolitan area. Recent class offerings include: Beginning Fiction,
The Secrets of Getting Published, Critiquing and Editing Your Writing,
and Writing Your Personal Memoir.
with contributing author
Jeanne Lyet Gassman