The Process of Publishing a Novel – 3 of 3

This is the last post in this series.. If you missed the previous posts they are:

Step 1 – Write your novel

Step 2 – Edit your novel

Or check out the collection for all parts.

Step 3 – Publish your novel

Here is a handy info graphic of what I’m going to cover in this post.

You can save this to your Pinterest board.

Blurb

If you are self publishing you will need a blurb for your book. You can write this yourself or hire a professional.

Here’s a post about the making of the blurb for Ocean Heart.

Cover Design

Your book cover will be one of the first official marketing materials for your book. They say “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover!” Except, people do.

You can design it yourself but if you are going to do print copies, it can be tricky to get the spine right if you don’t know what you’re doing. I opted for a professional.

Look at other covers in your genre. These covers are what your ideal reader is expecting. If your cover appeals to the wrong audience it’s going to make it hard to sell.

Here’s a post about how I chose my cover designer.

Marketing

Once you have the cover, start marketing your book. Don’t wait until it’s published to start marketing.

Fun things to do, are a cover reveal to drum up interest. Here’s a post going into more detail on how I did my cover reveal including tips on creating digital bookstagram pics for promoting your book.

You can also have a preorder period so people don’t have to wait until the release date to buy and can order it right away! These purchases won’t be counted until release day, boosting your release day sales.

I learnt a lot about marketing my book from author Pagan Malcolm and did the Storyseller Academy course that covers a lot of ways to promote your book and how to change your mindset.

Another, fabulous person to check out is Michelle Raab who specialises in Marketing for Indie Creative and is the founder of World Indie Warriors.

Check the links at the end of the post for posts on my book launch. They’re useful to check out if you need some ideas.

Formatter

This is the person that makes the inside of your book pretty and accessible in different formats for different eBook readers. You can do it yourself, or use tools available online.

Here’s a post about my experience with my formatter.

If you want to do it yourself, you might find it useful to check out Brittany Wang’s YouTube video showing where to get a free template and how to edit it.

Alternatively, you can use the tools provided by your chosen distributor to turn your manuscript into a book. I believe Amazon, D2D, and Ingram Sparks offer these tools for free.

Proofread

Big mistake I made was skipping this step. I uploaded my files to Ingram and then one of my ARC readers (author Cassidy Reyne) let me know where I’d missed some typos. 😱

My formatter was happy to amend my files for free but Ingram charged me for changing the files. 😢

Don’t skip this step. The last pair of eyes on your book are necessary. No matter all the edits already, and how perfect you believe it is, get a proof reader to do a final quality check.

Self Edit

If your proof reader spots any issues, you will need to make the changes and inform your formatter exactly what you needs changing!

And you thought you’d finished editing. 😂

Upload Files

If you are happy with everything, upload it to the distributor site you are using. Popular choices are:

  • Amazon
  • Ingram Spark
  • Draft 2 Digital
  • Lulu
  • Barnes & Noble

ARC Reader

Send your ARC readers a final copy. Between now and publishing you could make changes but we’d hope that by this point it is done.

The ARC readers need enough time to read it before you publish. This enables you to gather reviews for marketing and gives readers an idea of what others thought.

ARC readers will leave an honest review. Your book cover & blurb should attract the right readers. If your ARC readers are surprised by your book (and not in a good way) you might want to change the cover or blurb to ensure you attract the correct readers.

Check out my post on Betas vs ARC readers.

Publish

That’s it! Except now your book is out there, you still need to market it. Don’t be shy – every chance you get, give it a shout out. And, on that note…

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org Shop Link.

[kofi]

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There’s more than one way to query…

Querying literary agents and publishers requires thick skin and believing your novel is good enough. But, for a long time, I believed self publishing was even more scary.

I’m not querying anymore, I am bravely going indie, and super excited about it. But over the years I tried various methods of querying and I want to share these with you because you might find it useful…

Query Letter (or email/form)

This is the most well known method. Traditionally, you’d identify identify a Literary Agent or Publisher you feel will be interested in your novel and send them a letter with your manuscript. Today, many allow you to submit online using a form or by email. It’s important to follow their submission guidelines which are often available on their website.

Many publishers don’t accept “unsolicited” manuscripts. This means you need a Literary Agent. Literary Agents used to insist on exclusive queries meaning you send to one agency at a time. Thankfully this is not the norm anymore as it made the process more time consuming.

You can find details about publishers and agencies by searching online or buy The Artists & Writers Yearbook. It’s a directory of contacts and full of useful article’s- it’s updated annually.

Query Service

It can be hard work to find who to query, manage the various submission requirements and keep track. As a result various companies have set up services to support you in this.

When WeBook was about, I loved their query service. They identified who was interested in my manuscript type, adapted my attachments for each agent, and kept track of my emails. It worked and I did get a few requests.

Sadly, WeBook is no more but other companies offer a similar service, like Tracker Query. There was Agent Query Connect but the page won’t load – maybe they’ve gone.

Here’s a video review of Agent Hunter from 2 years ago. I think they rebranded as Agent Match by Jerchio Writers.

Writing Platforms

Another thing my beloved WeBook did was a competition where readers voted on the first page of a book. Then the first chapter. Then the first three chapters. If you made it to the finals it would be read by agents & publishers. Readers got virtual badges if they were good at spotting a winner!

Wattpad has the Wattys. This is an annual competition for users of their platform. The story must have been posted on the site during a set period of time. If you win, you get offered a publishing contract.

TechUntold have a good list of writing platforms in this article: 7 of the best sites like Wattpad

Swoon Reads

This is similar to the social media platforms above except it is owned by a publisher. You must post the whole complete final novel, exclusive to them for 6 months.

Readers vote on their favourites and can offer feedback. The publisher chooses their favourites from the site to offer publishing. I recently blogger about my experience which you can read here.

It sounds like Sweek offer a similar idea but with more social engagement. But, I’ve never tried Sweek – let me know if you have.

Write Mentor

This is a supportive platform full of advice and information, mainly for people interested in children’s fiction through to YA fiction.

They have exclusive opportunities for paid members but also have events for all. For the public they host an annual book festival (with opportunities to pitch & meet agents) and competitions.

Publisher Competitions

Check out publishers that publish books like yours. Although they probably don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, they may run a competition.

I entered Chicken House Publisher’s children’s fiction competition. Although I didn’t win, it was another option.

Bath Novel Awards

Look out for competitions like The Bath Novel Awards. This competition is judged by Literary Agents and readers. The winners gets a lump sum and offered representation.

Having this kind of accolade as you publish is going to be great for marketing your book. That’s why winning any competition is valuable to an author.

Mentor

If you can find a mentor, they can support you in getting published. There are plenty of competitions to find a mentor. This is another service offered by Write Mentor

The Arts Council England have different programs around the country to support writers. For example, in Norwich the National Writing Centre has mentors, and you can enter their Escalator competition to win one.

Book Festival Pitch Events

Look out of opportunities to pitch direct to an agent. Think of it like speed dating. You only have a few minutes to sell your book face-to-face. It helps to go prepared.

I took part in one at YALC and both agents I pitches to requested my manuscript.

Twitter Pitch Events

PitMad is probably the biggest query Twitter event but there are many more and some are genre sprcific.

You need to pitch your novel in a Tweet. Interested agents & publishers will like the tweet as a request. You follow their submission guidelines if you are interested back. Remember, you don’t have to send it if you’re not interested.

Manuscript Wishlist

If you’re on Twitter search for the hashtag #MSWL (Manuscript Wishlist) plus other keywords. For example, I searched for #MSWL #Mermaid to discover who wanted a mermaid story.

Even then, my MS wasn’t suitable for all. Some wanted a LGBTQIA+ mermaid story which Ocean Heart was not. Another wanted a mermaid story that represented BAME or other minority groups. Another was looking for a fantasy erotic novel.

It’s not worth wasting your time sending your MS to someone if they are looking for something specific and your MS doesn’t match.

Go Global

I kept most of my queries to the UK as I liked the idea that I could meet my agent/publisher in person. However, technology is changing all the time and making it accessible to meet people all over the world from your armchair.

During a Write Mentor festival, I got a one-on-one with a Literary Agent miles away. Whilst editing Ocean Heart, I had a meeting with my editor who was in another country.

Don’t restrict yourself by location.

I hope these 12 ideas help you in expanding your query options.

If you’re interested in indie publishing, stay tuned. I got sick of waiting for someone to say yes, so I gave myself permission to publish. I’ll be sharing my journey to help others interested in self publishing.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

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Now you can PreOrder Ocean Heart!

How was #PitMad September 2019?

As always, this Pitch Wars event isn’t simply about grabbing the attention of your dream agent or publisher. It is also about connecting with the writing community.

Taking part, I gained more followers. People retweeted my pitch to show support and help it get noticed and some even commented to let me know they liked my idea which is really encouraging. Further down you will find a collection Tweets that sum out the event for me.

The Manuscript Wishlist

One Tweet that was incredibly useful was by @RebeccaFKenney1 who told me about #MSWL. I never knew that agents tweet about the manuscripts they are wishing for. A quick search for “#MSWL Mermaid” sorted by most recent, brought up the two agents she had sign posted me to.

I have now discovered that on 24 September 2019 is #MSWL Day when agents will tweet their wish list to help authors find their match. I shall be adding that to my Literary Calendar which you can access to discover useful literary dates.

How successful was I?

  • Tinsel Tiger (picture book) – 4 likes (none were agents or publishers)
  • Jewel of the Sea (YA fiction) – 5 likes (three by publishers)

I will research these publishers to see if I feel they are a good fit for me before submitting.  On initial inspection, one of them really appeals to me due to their ethical values.

⚡️ “#PitMad September 2019”

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#PitMad June 2019 Summary

#PitMad – December 2018

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Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media
Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media

Have you finished your novel? What is next?

Writing a novel is mainly a solitary project that you work on for months. And, when you type ”The End” it is a huge achievement, but what do you do next?

For me, I sat alone at my PC.  After editing 85k words there was nobody around to celebrate with me. To be honest, that isn’t the end.

Entered Wattys

If you have been following my blog, you are probably aware that my novel is posted on Wattpad so when I finished editing, it was very easy to submit my novel into their annual competition.  

Beta Readers

While it is sitting on Wattpad being judged by the judges, I decided to send my novel to a select group of beta readers to get feedback.  07I will take their feedback into consideration and make any necessary amendments and then I will decide whether to query agents, self publish or enter other competitions.

Research

Meanwhile, I will be researching literary agents to see who is a good fit for my novel.  I am attending an event about the publishing industry (how to get published, attract an agent, attract an editor with Phoebe Morgan) and an agent one-to-one with Florence Rees.  

I am also part of World Indie Warriors which is a collaborative group that are supporting authors in the self publishing industry or those aspiring to self publish.  Meeting them has been a very enlightening experience and as a result I feel more motivated and informed about self publishing.  It no longer feels like a scary unknown. 

I am also attending a marketing course with Pagan Malcolm on book prompting which will be beneficial whichever route I take.  

Next Project

Although I’ve taken a creative break, I have already started plotting the next novel.  I am going to rework and finish Diamond of the Sky.  This will be my project for Camp NaNo (July 2019).

Read

This summer, I will be catching up on my reading.  Reading is a great way to continue to develop my writing skills as I soak up the methods others have used.  It is also a great way to support other writers.

What do you do when you have finished writing a novel?

If you liked this post, you may also like?

How I edited my novel – 12 tips for self editing

Spotlight on Summer Literary Dates calendar

Book Review:  Rebel of the sands

Reflecting on Camp NaNoWriMo (July 2018)

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Review: Agent Hunter

Agent Hunter.png

What is Agent Hunter

Agent Hunter is a resource you can use to find agents that may be interested in your manuscript.  If you want to be able to search the directory and save results then you will need to subscribe.  Different subscriptions offer different benefits.

Subscriptions

I contacted them to see about a discount as a blogger and they offered me a 6 month trial with basic access in return for my review.

There are four plans:

Agent Hunter Subscriptions

For comparison, in the past, I have bought The Agents and Writers Yearbook.  This book is updated every summer and is a directory of agents and publishers.  The book also contains useful articles of interest to writers.  Unfortunately, the market and agency needs are constantly changing and the book quickly becomes out of date.  The cost of the book is about £16 to £17 when it is 6 months out of date.

My initial impressions

During January, I used the site to create a list of potential agents that might be interested in my manuscript.

Agent Hunter hom

Search

You can search by:

  • Agent:  You can search for a specific name or by the genre they represent.  You can also narrow the list further by selecting options such as agent’s experience, number of clients, size of the agency, or include keywords.  There is also a way to search for an agent that represents a specific author.
  • Agency:  Search by the name of an agency, size of an agency, whether they take email submissions and if they are an AAA member.
  • Publisher: Search by a publisher’s name, type of publisher, if they accept unrepresented submissions or by a keyword.

Favourites list

If you find an agent, agency or publisher you like, you can add them to your ‘favourites list’ so you can find them easily again.

Saved search

I did an agent search for ‘Children’s fiction’ as I would like to query for my YA novel.  The result was about 8 pages of names, like a directory of literary agents involved in representing this genre.

Being able to save the search was really useful as I only have a limited amount of time.  Whenever I had time to research my long list to create a shortlist, I focused on one page a session.

I clicked the name to read the agent’s profile.  I’d identify what agency they work for. I would open their page and check that they are currently still interested in YA fiction and if my novel would meet their tastes.  I’d also check that they are accepting queries and what their requirements are.  I then recorded my research on a spreadsheet on my Google Drive.

Saving the search, meant I could return to the site at a later date and continue working through the list (you can’t do that with a search engine). I just made a note of where I got so I wouldn’t forget.

If I liked an agent (and thought they had potential), I added them to my shortlist.

Profiles

The profiles on the site vary.  Some are quite detailed as the agent has cooperated in providing information or has a strong online presence making information easily accessible.

The profiles talk about works the agent has been involved with previously so you can get a feel for their tastes, together with information about what they have said they are looking for.  For example, if they are interested in Picture Books or hate fantasy, then I know we will not be a match.

Conclusion

So far, I have found the site to be a good resource with a wealth of information.  I could have searched online for literary agencies and found the information myself, however,  I have tried this and it is a much slower process as the results are not as defined.

Being able to save my progress has been a huge benefit too.  The profiles are pretty up-to-date but agents are constantly changing their needs and preferences, so you still need to do your research once you have a name and agency.

The website is incredibly easy to navigate.  I can’t imagine anyone struggling to use it.

Their packages are honest with no hidden costs – I love that. I think they are good value for money. The information is constantly being updated.

Yes – I recommend Agent Hunter for anyone looking for a UK Agent, Agency or Publisher.

Video review and tutorial

Please check out my video review and tutorial for using Agent Hunter.

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