“15 Steps to Increase Your Chances at Publication (Pub Sub)” by Joan Y. Edwards
(I wrote this in June 3, 2011. It has had 382 views as of today, July 25, 2015. I hope it helps you become a published author.)
Dear Pub Subbers,
I can’t believe it’s June already. This year is almost half-way over. Let’s think about it. How many submissions have you made this year to critique groups, a paid critique, a free critique by someone, a publisher, an agent, or for a contest? Whether your answer is 0, 1, 21, or 41, accept your answer as being good for you at this particular time in your life. However, I want to motivate you to make at least 7 more submissions this year. That’s one for each month.
If you submit one manuscript a year, and you agreed to submit one each month, you have been 1/12 or 8% successful in carrying out your goal. Here’s a chart with all 12 months listed with the appropriate percentage beside it.
1/12 = 8%
2/12 = 16%
3/12 = 25%
4/12 = 33%
5/12 = 41%
6/12 = 50%
7/12 = 58%
8/12 = 66%
9/12 = 75%
10/12 = 83%
11/12 = 91%
12/12 = 100%
You can also look at how submitting more often increases the chances of getting published. If you send out one manuscript to one publisher, how much better your odds will be if you send out one manuscript to three well-matched publishers. You increase your chances 17%. It would take you from an 8% chance to a 25% chance of getting published. If you send out three different manuscripts to three different publishers, you have increased your chances to 50% chance of getting published. If you send out one manuscript to six different agents or publishers, you have increased your chances to 50% chance of getting an agent.
If you decided that these percentages don’t mean anything, you may be right. I believe the rates vary for different writers. However, I can tell you this. If you don’t submit your work at least 12 times in one year, you are not seriously convinced that your story is good or that someone will publish it. Some people have never experienced rejection for their writing. Dr. Seuss got rejected 27 times or more for his first book. Some people say you have to be rejected 100 times. I’m not receiving that, but if that was so. here’s the percentage rate on that:
1/100 = 1% chance of being published.
2/100 = 2% chance of being published.
3/100 = 3% chance of being published.
44/100 = 44% chance of being published.
66/100 = 66% chance of being published.
99/100 = 99% chance of being published.
100/100 = 100% chance of being published.
It’s sort of like a weather prediction, even thought you have submitted 100 manuscripts, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will get published. However, if you don’t submit again, even after 1000 rejections, you will never get published. Your goal has to be that you will keep submitting and making your story better and better. Keep submitting no matter how many rejections you get. Realize that there is a publisher looking for you while you are looking for this publisher. If your goal truly is to be published, you will not give up. You will keep submitting. You will keep the faith in yourself and your writing.
If you submit to the magazine market rather than the book market, you may have a better chance of being a paid published author. It won’t take as long to get your answer. It’s a good idea to experiment with writing for newspapers, magazines, non-fiction, fiction. Experiment with writing for children and adults. If your goal is to be published, you are published when you write a blog. You have to specify paid published writer in your goals. Being published in other writing markets will help build a writer’s confidence in the book market. These writing credits also look good on a resume.
I can safely say that if you follow the 15 guidelines below, you will increase the possibilities of making your publication dreams come true.
Here are my 15 ways to increase your chances at publication:
- Set your goals.
Believe in yourself and your writing. As Lisa Nichols said in the movie, “The Secret”, “have unwavering faith.” No matter what the circumstances are or how bad things look, you continue to believe in yourself and your writing.
If you are not able to believe in yourself and your writing:
a. Take an online or in person workshop.
b. Ask the teacher/presenter of the workshop to critique your work (be willing to pay them $35.00 for 10 pages.)
d. Say I am a paid published author ten times a day. It will make new brain cells in your mind. Your subconscious mind will steer you to publication when you act on your belief. Submitting your work is acting on the belief that you are a paid published author.
- Write a pitch for the story you have in mind to write. I’ve discovered it’s a lot easier to write a winning pitch for a story before you write it than it is when it’s finished.
Decide which genre, and who the audience will be.
Write the story, novel, poem, or article.
b. Submit manuscript for critique to
(1) a professional critiquer, someone who has gotten at least 10 published articles or books in the same genre as yours.
(2) a critique group – online or in person – Online can give more input; in person groups that just read it and give their opinion will give you a good overview. You can ask them to concentrate on the First Page, your query letter, your proposal, your cover letter.
c. Revise again. Never change anything you don’t agree with 100%. When you do that, you’re making it someonelse’s story, not yours.
d. Get the story, novel, poem, or article in the “This is the best I can do at this moment in time with the knowledge and skills that I have.” Proceed to number 7.
- Study the market for this kind of story, novel, poem, or article.
Choose three possible publishers, three agents, and three contests for this story who according to the guidelines are interested in this type of publication. If you send your query, cover letter, proposal, and/or manuscripts to publishers, editors, agents who do not publish that kind of work, you are pushing yourself off the train tracks to success.
Copy the links to their guidelines and copy their guidelines at the top of your query letter or cover letter. Copy it to the top of the proposal.
Follow their guidelines. Follow their guidelines. Follow their guidelines.
Check your manuscript, query letter, cover letter, and proposal for correct
a. formatting (manuscript formatting, poetry -rhyme and meter)
b. grammar and punctuation
c. following the guidelines of the publisher, literary agency, or contest where you are submitting
d. hook (pitch)
e. universal theme
f. plot –
(1) ordinary day,
(2) something bad happens,
(3) main character tries to reach goal of straightening out the situation, drops deeper in trouble.
(4) main character tries again to reach goal of straightening out the situation, and drops the deepest in the very worst that the situation could get.
(5) main character has an aha moment of how to solve the problem.
(6) main character does something to confront the villain (or villainous situation) and wins
(7) tell what happens to everyone else in the story as a result of the win.
(8) everything is back to an ordinary day, but it’s a better day than when the story’s problem showed up.
g. magnetic characters that stick to the reader’s minds because of their situations, thoughts, feelings, words, and actions.
- Print everything out. Read it over again. Leave it sitting in your computer or in a folder for at least 24 hours.
Make necessary changes to correct errors to query letter, cover letter, proposal, or manuscript.
Get it in final condition for mailing or emailing:
a. If email submission, copy and paste into the email. Check to make sure it kept the formatting of your original document. Make sure if they allow attachments and in what format they allow them.
b. If snail mail submission, address it properly, put your name and return address; enclose self-addressed stamped envelope, if the guidelines ask for one. Put correct postage on envelope.
- Say a prayer. Have a winning attitude. Visualize the person who receives it as smiling and really being pulled into your work and talking excitedly to everyone in their office about it. Now push the send button on the computer, or put the envelope in the mailbox. Then visualize yourself receiving a “Yes.” Get excited. It’s really coming. In spite of all the odds against it. In spite of any doubts anyone has. You are a paid published writer.
Repeat all the above steps for a different work. Repeat from Step 7 – 15 for the same work to different publishers, agents, or contests. When you submit in June, let me know in a comment to this June 2011 Pub Sub 3rd Friday blog post.
Here are six articles I found on the internet to help further increase your chances to get published.
- Michelle Kerns “30 Authors Who Were Rejected Repeatedly and Sometimes Rudely by Publishers” http://www.examiner.com/book-in-national/30-famous-authors-whose-works-were-rejected-repeatedly-and-sometimes-rudely-by-publishers
David Miller “Four Ways to Increase Your Chances of Getting Published” http://matadornetwork.com/notebook/4-ways-to-increase-your-chances-of-getting-publishing/
Sharon Miner “What Are the Chances at Getting Published?” http://www.ehow.com/info_8097393_chances-getting-published.html
James Weseen “How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Published” http://www.writerscoop.org/How_to_Increase_your_Chances_of_Getting_Published.pdf
Henry at Creative Writers Desk “Increase Your Odds of Getting Published with a Killer Query Letter” http://www.creativewritersdesk.com/queryletter.html
Julie H. Ferguson http://www.beaconlit.com/fiveways.pdf
Other Information to help you submit your work and get published!
Week Three Pub Sub Friday
Submit your work. You are worth it. Good luck with all your publication endeavors.
Thanks for reading my blog.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2011-2015 Joan Y. Edwards
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