Top Ten Mistakes Writers Make When Trying to Get Published
1. Starting the publishing process too soon.
Your synopsis, bio, marketing ideas, and content of your book ALL need to be in a state of perfection before you even THINK about starting the process!
2. Figuring (hoping!) that your book will sell without a lot of work.
Whether you decide to self publish or traditionally publish, you are in the process of turning your beautiful work of art into a commodity (I know you don’t really want to hear this, but the sooner you accept that book publishing is a BUSINESS, the better off you’ll be), and nobody is going to be as passionate about that as you are. Remember: If it is to be, it’s up to me.
3. Mr. (or Ms.) Ego is in the way. If you think your book is perfect as is, you might want to think again! You really should take into consideration the comments of folks who read your work. Fellow writing group members, an agent who gets back to you with a rejection but makes comments …take these to heart, don’t be stubborn!
4. Sending query letters to agents who don’t represent your genre.
Research, research, research! You MUST do your research and make sure you are barking up the right tree. Your rejection rate percentage will go WAY down if you do this!
5. Thinking that polishing the first third of the manuscript should do it.
Remember, content is king. If your material falls apart a few chapters in, people WILL notice. Make sure the entire manuscript is as brilliant as those beginning chapters. If you have a little inkling that something isn’t quite right, it probably isn’t.
6. Query letter doesn’t focus on strengths.
For goodness sake, if you’ve had a book published already or have 50,000 facebook followers, don’t mention that in the last sentence of your query letter! You want to start strong.
7. Your Synopsis is waaaay too long.
You should really have three versions of your synopsis; a one liner, a short paragraph, and then the one that is used after an agent has expressed interest, or for any format where you really want to get into depth. But in no case should this be more than three paragraphs. Four TOPS.
8. Your Biography doesn’t pertain to the work.
I see this over and over again. For fiction writers, you want to be talking about what you’ve had published (in magazines, newspapers, journals), and for non-fiction writers you want to be talking about why you are the perfect person to be bringing your information to the fore. This isn’t the place to get cute. No dogs. No daughter is attending college, no recent vacation information.
9. Forgetting that publishing is a BUSINESS.
I mentioned this a bit in #2, but whether you are self publishing (essentially starting a business) or traditionally publishing (putting your book into the business world), there are two important things to remember: it’s not going to happen overnight and numbers matter. Patience and perseverance come in VERY handy in the world of book publishing.
10. Writing a query letter that doesn’t follow protocol.
My guess is you’ve heard a lot about this, most likely because it’s really important. Again, you need to do your research on the do’s and don’ts when it comes to writing a query letter. There’s lots of information about this on blogs, in fact my next blog will be talking about the things agents love and the things agents hate in query letters.