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How to get published - our top tips
Your novel probably isn't a Pulizer prize winner
...but it doesn't matter. There are billions of novelists in the world and while it's not reasonable to think that everyone of them will see their work published, enough bad novels make it into print year after year for there to be a hint of a hope for your novel.
Make a typescript
...which, if you don't already know, is a plain typed version of your manuscript (novel). This needs to be on plain A4 paper, sensible font and size (Arial, 10), double-spaced, printed on one side only.
Don't bind your typescript
...even if you're tempted to make it look "nice". Wrap a couple of elastic bands round it instead.
Print two to three sample chapters
...to send to agents or publishers. Again this should follow the same rules as the typescript. Simply paperclip the pages together. The agent's or publisher's reader needs to be able to easily access your text. Put anything in her way and she may well discard your novel without so much as lifting your carefully created cover.
Write a summary
...of around 300-500 words. This will give the reader a chance to understand where you're going with the story without wading through the whole thing.
Decide whether to send your novel to a publishers or an agent
...it's not a simple decision. You can obtain a list of publishers and agents by investing the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook. It's easier to see what type of novel publishers produce than it is to find out what kind of novelist an agent represents. If you can get yourself an agent then be aware that they will act in your best interests. A publisher is really only interested in what's best for them. Having an agent is useful for managing the relationship between publisher and novelist but not essential.
Send with a stamped addressed envelope
...even if your novel is so fantastic you can't even contemplate it being returned make sure you include an SAE with your submission. It's good manners in the publishing world. Send only your brief summary, your three sample chapters and a very brief, unpretentious covering letter. Never send your full transcript unless you've been asked.
...most good publishers and agents will send you a rejection letter in due course. If they like your novel then your full transcript may be 'called-in'. If not then your submission will be returned in that SAE. The publishing worlds version of a Simon Cowell, NO! Sometimes advice will be offered in which case pat yourself on the back because that's better than the standard rejection note.
or get a 'call in'
...but remember that even if you are asked to submit your entire typescript you still only have a very small chance of getting that book into print or of being taken on by an agent for future work. Nevertheless it's a significant achievement and you should be celebrating the fact that it's not just you who thinks you can write. Well done!
Women in Focus Editor
Article Plan The Book Midwife: How to get your book published ▼