How to Get Fiction Novels Published

By Gregory Hamel

  • Overview

    Writing a novel is a laborious yet rewarding experience, which people often pursue as a pass time activity. Composing a novel with the goal of getting published is a charge in which professional writers with previously published books and short stories are most likely to achieve success. Still, with a great idea that is executed with excellent prose, even unaccomplished writers have a chance of getting their work published.
    • Step 1

      Complete your fiction novel. Unlike nonfiction works that are based largely upon concept and the credentials of the writer to fulfill an outline, a novel must almost always be completed before any publisher will consider it. Also, ensure that the novel is in fact complete: a rough draft that can still use improvement is not complete. Have several skilled writers and editors read your manuscript and edit it according to their advice. Make the book as clean as possible before sending it anywhere.
    • Step 2

      Write a query letter and synopsis. The traditional way to get a novel published at a large printing house is to get a literary agent to represent the book, and pitch it to publishers using the agent's knowledge of the publishing industry. To get an agent, a letter outlining the plot of the book and vital information about the author is usually sent by email or post, and if the letter creates interest, the agent will request additional materials, such as a synopsis (usually a 2- to 3-page comprehensive plot summary) and portions of, or even all of, the manuscript.

    • Step 3

      Send query letters to agents that represent the type of novel you wrote. The "Literary Marketplace" is a book that can be found in libraries and it maintains a list of reputable literary agents, often citing the type of work they represent. Send letters out to as many agents as possible. The rejection rate on query letters is high, even for authors with previously published work.
    • Step 4

      Work with the agent to improve your manuscript as you find a publisher. Securing a literary agent is only the first hurdle toward getting a fiction novel published. Next the agent and the author must work together to improve the novel and pick different publishers that might be interested in the work. The agent will generally handle the actual pitch of the novel, but the author must be willing to work with publishers and editors to alter the novel according to their needs and standards. If the agent finds a publisher that likes the book and the author, a contract for publishing the book, which includes some upfront payment to the author, is signed.
    • Skill: Challenging
    • Ingredients:
    • Query letters
    • Synopsis
    • Manuscript
    • Tip: Self publishing through an online vanity publisher is a way for beginning authors to get their books in print, but going that route rarely leads to great profit, and can signal to real publishers an amateur author who is not serious about his craft.
    • Tip: Be persistent and thick skinned. You are likely to get 20 rejections for every request to read more of your manuscript. Use criticism as a tool to improve your novel.
    • Tip: Don't ever say "fiction novel" when dealing with an agent, publisher or editor as a novel implies fiction and therefore is redundant. The term's use here is for those not in the publishing industry.

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