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Getting published (starting out)

How to get your book published
Good guides to getting published (a reading list)
Getting published--general and miscellaneous
Formatting your manuscript
Book doctors.When and whether to hire an independent (consulting) editor or book doctor

Websites for authors

How to get your book published

Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published (Jane Friedman, 6-12-17)
The Book P&L: How Publishers Make Decisions About What to Publish (Jane Friedman, 7-8-15) To some extent, whether to make you an offer depends on the numbers. It's important to understand the numbers the publisher is thinking about. "P&L. Profit and loss. However you refer to it, the P&L is a publisher's basic decision-making tool for determining whether a book makes financial sense to publish. It's a mixture of the predictable (such as manufacturing costs) and the unpredictable (namely, sales)."
6 Common Myths About Publishing (Emily Harstone, Authors Publish)

This one is a good warning:'

 Myth: "You have to pay a traditional publisher."

    If you have a traditional publisher, you do not pay them anything. They pay you. However, over the past few years many traditional and established publishing houses such Harlequin, Thomas Nelson, and Hay House have partnered with companies such as Authors Solutions Inc. to create self-publishing branches associated with these presses. Sometimes if the traditional branches of these presses have contests, the contests are even redirected to the self-publishing branch. This can confuse a lot of people.
     "For example in India, Penguin/Random House, one of the big five and one of the best known publishers in the world, runs a company called Partridge. However, Partridge is purely a vanity publisher. They charge all their writers.
     "It is no wonder that myth is becoming more substantial, not less."
How to Negotiate Like a Pro (Susan Spann)

~Part 1: The difference between Zero-Sum and Mutual Benefit negotiation strategies
~Part 2 (on Writers in the Storm, 7-2015) Negotiation requires more than simply preparing a random (or even numerical) list of the contract provisions you want (or want to change). Approaching the negotiation with a plan increases the likelihood of a successful outcome.
— Read the contract; make a list of points you’d like to change.
— Prioritize your list into deal breakers, important points, and “things to ask for.”
— Consider the publisher’s potential responses to your requests.
— Adjust your list, and strategy, to address potential publisher concerns.
~Part 3: The Negotiation
35 Specialized Manuscript Publishers that Accept Direct Submissions (Emily Harstone, Authors Publish)
Pick Your Pond: How Nonfiction Authors Can Find the Right Positioning Anne Janzer on Jane Friedman's blog, 11-23-2020) Write what you know. Stay in your lane. Find your niche. "If you want to write about a huge idea, it’s often easiest to get your arms around a smaller subject that represents the idea." From Get the Word Out: Write a Book That Makes a Difference by Anne Janzer.
The art of the pitch (pitch stories, not topics)
How to write a book proposal Agents typically sell books based on a proposal and sample chapters, even if the author has already written a whole book. Writing the proposal often shows the writer how to re-do the book.
Your Book Might Not Sell, and You Have to Live With That (Abigail Rasminsky, Electric Lit, 11-19-19) "So I wrote the book, my thesis, all 360 pages of it, which was a memoir about the back injury that ended my career as a professional dancer and the unconventional journey I went on to heal my body.... In order to keep going, you have to believe the book will sell. That means you have to ignore the reality of publishing...I didn't write my book for the money, but I wasn't really prepared for it to go nowhere." And this was a good story, well told. About back pain.
Develop a 'selling' title
Landing the book deal (various articles on the subject)
Blogs about the book business
Book publishing and e-publishing
Take advantage of the boom in audiobooks
Self-publishing and print on demand (POD) Two different concepts.
Are You Worried Your Ideas or Work Will Be Stolen? (Jane Friedman, 10-19-11)

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Good guides to getting published

The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman. "Literary agents and editors receive and reject hundreds of manuscripts each month. While it's the job of these publishing professionals to be discriminating, it's the job of the writer to produce a manuscript that immediately stands out among the vast competition. And those outstanding qualities, says New York literary agent Noah Lukeman, have to be apparent from the first five pages."
Publishing 101: A First-Time Author's Guide to Getting Published, Marketing and Promoting Your Book, and Building a Successful Career by Jane Friedman

The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner. A frank look at book publishing from the editor's viewpoint. What they want and don't want, from a potential author. A pre-digital focus.

The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It . . . Successfully by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry
Children's Book Publishing (practical information for writers and illustrators)
Review This Editing Checklist Before Publishing Your Book (Writer's Center, Kirkus, 3-6-19). Don’t plagiarize. Understand permissions. Know standard citation styles. Consult an attorney and add disclaimers, if need be. Secure appropriate ISBNs and LCCNs. Search for continuity blunders. Know of and eliminate common errors (and hire an editor). Follow industry standards on formatting (summarized in article).

Write Your Book on the Side: How to Write and Publish Your First Nonfiction Kindle Book While Working a Full-Time Job (Even if You Don’t Have a Lot of Time and Don’t Know Where to Start) by Hassan Osman

Write That Book Already! The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now) by Sam Barry and Kathi Kamen Goldmark. Including original insights from Stephen King, Amy Tan, Dave Barry, Scott Turow, Andrew Sean Greer, Meg Waite Clayton, and more.
Harvard Guide to Using Sources, including a section on plagiarism.
Penguin Random House's guide to getting published (PRH UK, read free online, definite British slant)


Book Doctors: When and whether to hire an independent (consulting) editor or book doctor

Book Doctors: The Real Deal (Susan A. Schwartz on what to look for in an editor)
The Doctor Will See You Now (interview with Lisa Rojany-Buccieri, who explains the difference between book doctors, editors, and ghostwriters and offers practical insights into what a book doctor can and cannot do)
Finding an Editor (Writers and Editors blog)
Kinds of editors and levels of edit--what every writer should know (Writers and Editors blog)
Book Doctors: What They (and Consulting Editors) Do
Common Rates for Editorial Services (Editorial Freelancers Association). See also How Much Should I Charge? (which you can read as a potential client)
Frequently Asked Questions about Editors (Tara K. Harper, who doesn't put much faith in book doctors)
Independent Editors and Assessment Services. Writers Beware (SFWA's) excellent articles and sage advice on what editors do, when a fiction writer needs an independent editor, what editing can't buy (a magic fix, bestsellerdom, an agent's interest), and what to watch out for.
A Professional Critique: What Should You Receive for Your Money? (Margot Finke)
Nine Signs of a Scam Book Doctor (Jerry Gross, an old hand in the business, 12-21-11, on Writers, Agents & Editors Network)
What a Good Editor Will Do for You (Jerry Gross interviews Viking editor Beena Kamlani on what to expect from an editor in a publishing house, Writer's Digest, 2-11-08)

"You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others the fire that is burning inside of you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke."
~ Arthur Plotnik, author of The Elements of Editing (1988)

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Formatting Your Manuscript

You can format your book yourself or hire someone to do it for you.


• A general guideline for delivering a book manuscript (if you have nothing else): Format an MS Word file in Times New Roman font, size 12 point, double-spaced, flush left (ragged right), with one-inch margins on both sides. Don't put a page number on the title but count it in the numbering. In papers that include front matter numbered with roman numerals, the title page counts as page i. Otherwise, it counts as page 1. Format the whole manuscript in the same font. The whole idea is to be readable. The book publisher designs the manuscript for publication AFTER it has been edited.

• Formatting software highly recommended by several authors: Vellum (for Mac) and Jutoh (for PC).

---Vellum for Mac (review by Reedsy)
---Jutoh for PC
---Reedsy's Book Writing Software (jump to Formatting)
---Atticus vs Vellum: A Side-by-Side Comparison (Kindlepreneur) Vellum has been arguably the best formatting software for authors, but it is very expensive, works only for Macs, andf has said publicly tha tit does not intend to make a PC version. Then came Atticus, a software that claims to be as good as Vellum, works on all operating systems, and is much cheaper than Vellum. This  side-by-side comparison is also a checklist of factors to consider.
Proper Manuscript Format, Classic Edition (Shunn) There's a classic and a modern format.
What Authors Need to Know About Vellum Formatting Software (Tucker Max, Scribe Media)
How to Format a Book: 10 Tips Your Editor Wants You to Know (Blake Atwood, The Write Life, 2-25-21) Many comments!
Manuscript Format: Create a Professional Manuscript (Chersti Nieveen, Reedsy, 6-7-20) Tips to help you achieve an industry-standard manuscript format.
How to Format a Novel for Submission (Carol Saller, CMoS ShopTalk, 1-12-21) Chicago Manual of Style format is what you want for book manuscripts.
What Are the Guidelines for Formatting a Manuscript? (Brian A. Klems, The Writer's Dig, Writer's Digest, 12-22-14)
Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript by Chuck Sambuchino
Preparing Copy (Part 1 of 3, Help Your Designer, Help Yourself). See Part 2: Obtaining Images and Part 3: Submitting Revisions
Advice for Writers: Preparing Your E-Manuscript (Carol Saller, Subversive Copy Editor blog, 7-5-10)
Formatting Your Manuscript (Nathan Bransford 2-14-07)
A Quick Guide to Manuscript Format (Moira Allen, Writing-World.com)
Creating a Manuscript that is “Designer/Layout Friendly" (Peri Poloni-Gabriel, Publishing Basics, 1-30-12). See especially Other typical formatting mistakes made in manuscripts.

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Getting published--general and miscellaneous

See also:
Agents and book proposals
Self-publishing and print on demand (POD)
Book collaboration and ghost writing
Fiction writing
Narrative nonfiction
Poetry and verse


And now, after these Introductory entries:

So, You Want to Write a Book by Sarah Wernick (a good place to start)
Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published (Jane Friedman, 6-12-17)
What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Publish Your First Book (Bryn Durgin and Navied Mahdavian, Daily Shouts, New Yorker, 12-18-22) Humor mixed with reality.


In alphabetical order:

Advice for New Writers Who Are Looking to Get Published (Cara J. Stevens, 11-19-19) See also The Road to Getting Published: Demystifying the Different Types of Publishing Companies.

Alternative and literary magazines (New Pages listings)

Ask a Reporter Read how New York Times reporters have answered students' frequently asked questions about such beats as international events, elections, education, science, technology, culture, religion, sports, and photography). See more Q. and A. | Times Reporters Answer Student Questions on the NY Times Learning Network (which is in process of designing something new to replace this).

Authonomy, publisher HarperCollins attempt to use online popularity as a guide to choosing which books from the slush pile to read. (The slush pile is unsolicited manuscripts, not represented by agents or asked for by editors.) In Is Authonomy Authentic?, Kate Eltham quotes others on whether HarperCollins site has moved from "potentially innovative to concretely exploitative," with its offer to publish titles from the online slush pile as POD books (for a fee).
Authorlink Interviews (how they got published), reviews, etc.
Authors Publish How to gain readers, win over editors, build a long-term writing career, and recognize legitimate publishing opportunities.

    See The Other Side of the Desk Caitlin Jans on what it's like to work in publishing (Emily Harstone, 4-18-24)
Authorsden (connecting with other writers and readers)

The Back Room YouTube channel (author videos)

Boxers, Briefs and Books. John Grisham's op-ed piece on what hard work writing is, one theme of the forthcoming collection Don’t Quit Your Day Job: Acclaimed Authors and the Day Jobs They Quit, ed. by Sonny Brewer (with stories by Grisham, Pat Conroy, Rick Bragg, and many other authors).'
The Burry Man Writers Center (resources for a worldwide community of writers)

Debut authors. Meet the Champion of Debut Authors (Ruth Madievsky, Electric Lit, 1-18-23) Adam Vitcavage's Debutiful website and podcast is a celebration of first books and new writers. It feels like Debutiful has become an indispensable part of every debut literary author’s publicity plan.
Don’t Hold Out for Publishing to Make You Feel Seen. Here’s Another Goal Instead. (Susan DeFreitas on Jane Friedman's blog, 10-26-2020) 'Publication may feel like the thing you’re yearning for, but in reality, it’s something deeper. What you’re yearning for is the sense of being seen....Looking back, some of the greatest fulfillment I received from publishing wasn’t from the “big” bylines at all, it was from publishing a column in a free newspaper where I lived at the time in a little mountain town. Because people actually read that column, and actually talked to me about it. Publishing that column made me feel seen.'

Don't Quit Your Day Job: Acclaimed Authors and the Day Jobs they Quit by Sonny Brewer. Autobiographical essays by: John Grisham, Pat Conroy, Howard Bahr, Rick Bragg, Larry Brown, Connie May Fowler, Tom Franklin, Tim Gautreaux, William Gay, Winston Groom, Silas House, Suzanne Hudson, Joshilyn Jackson, Barb Johnson, Cassandra King, Janis Owens, Michelle Richmond, Clay Risen, George Singleton, Matthew Teague, Daniel Wallace, Brad Watson, Steve Yarbrough and Sonny Brewer

18 strategies for brainstorming a title, an excellent synthesis of approaches to creating great titles, from Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers by Scott Norton, posted on Scrib'd

Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully: in Ten Minutes (Stephen King's now-classic article, which appeared in The Writer in 1986, reprinted on the Great Writing site).

50 Blogs for Mastering the Art, Craft, and Business of Writing (Freewrite, 10-2-18)
The Freelance Writing FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about Writing for Newspapers & Magazines (Marcia Yudkin, Creative Marketing Solutions)
Freelance Writing Jobs: 300+ Websites That Pay (Cool Club, 10-15-18) Looks like Essays is the place to get paid more, but essays are notoriously hard to place.
Frequently Asked Questions about Writing for Newspapers & Magazines (Marcia Yudkin, Marketing for Introverts and Other Under-Appreciated People and Companies) See Articles about Marketing for Introverts.

Help a Reporter (HARO) provides journalists with a robust database of sources for upcoming stories and daily opportunities for sources to secure valuable media coverage.
HelpingWriters.com (Scott Edelstein)
The HittList (formerly Jobslist) is a free subscription email that is sent out about once a week (usually on Tuesday morning). The HittList contains info about science/medical writing/editing jobs, both staff and freelance.
How the Writer's Center Helped Me Get Published (Sonja Williams, Personal Reflections, First Person Plural, Writer's Center, 7-13-15) Sonja praises David Stewart and Ken Ackerman for their nonfiction workshops and critiques, among other things the WC offered to help her make the jump from academic prose to something for a broader market. She also praises C.M. Mayo for helping writers find their literary voice.
How to Get Your Book Published Jane Friedman's exceptionally helpful page). And here are links to many more helpful explanations about how to publish a book.
How to Write a Bestseller, Be Interviewed by Oprah, and Walk on the Moon (Scott Edelstein, Helping Writers)

Indigenous writers and editors (Iva Cheung, report on a panel at Editors Canada 2017). See also what she writes about
---Indigenous editorial issues (Greg Younging)
---Reclaiming Indigenous languages (Nicki Benson, Editors BC Meeting)
---Dialogue on editing Indigenous writing (Editors Canada 2016)
Information in a Nutshell Radio. Felice Gerwitz interviews experts about writing and publishing (including marketing).

My First Time (Paris Review video series) Watch writers discuss the trials of writing and publishing that first novel, that first play, that first book of poems ... Gabrielle Bell, Christine Schutt, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Sheila Heti, Tao Lin, Donald Antrim, Katori Hall, Ben Lerner.

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing (Joe Konrath, thriller writer)
No (Brian Doyle, an essay about rejection letters, Kenyon Review, Spring 2008) See also Highlights from Brian's Public Talks (YouTube) Some of his favorite parts of the many frank and funny talks he gave (1957-2017)

A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Published by Jeff Kleinman (Salt Cay Writers Retreat)
10 real rejection letters successful people have received (Rachel Gillett, Business Insider, 3-2-16)
10 Rejection Letters Sent to Very Successful People (Jennifer M. Wood, Mental Floss, 3-5-14)

Freelance Writing Jobs: 300+ Websites That Pay (Cool Club, 10-15-18)

What advice do you give a writer? Mike Shatzkin writes: "...when we discussed with a leading agent a panel we’re planning for our January Digital Book World conference called 'Stalking the Wild Blogger: Scouting Blogs and Self-Published Content for Fresh Voices,'which is about agents and editors finding authors through blogs and self-published books, he said that is now something that 'every agent does.' He explained: 'it is now the standard way to find new clients.' That means that blogs and self-published books using ebook and print-on-demand models are now part of the overall commercial structure of publishing. They are not something separate and inferior, as 'vanity publishing' was in the past." ~ The Shatzkin File, 8-25-09

What Do Writers and Editors Do? (Dawn Rosenberg McKay, The Balance) Part of The Balance series on Career Basics.

What Every Writer Needs to Know About Editors (listen to audio of literary agent Scott Edelstein, interviewed by Paulette Warren). Is your editor a friend, a partner, or an adversary? Why do so many editors not do what they say they’ll do — or do it much later than they promised? How can you get editors’ attention in the first place? Most writers know the importance of having good working relationships with editors, but may not know how to go about establishing them. Scott explores writers’ most common misunderstandings about editors and provides advice to help make the most of the writer/editor relationship.

What Julie & Julia Tells Us About Publishing and Marketing in 2010 (Kendra Bonnet, Women's Memoirs)

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Writing Five Books (of varying sizes and qualities) A Year: How To Be A Disciplined and Productive Writer (Josh Hanagarne, World's Strongest Librarian, on his blog The Night Wieners, talking about the bumpy road to success for his book The World's Strongest Librarian: A Book Lover's Adventures

Harlan Ellison, the Great Ranter, writer of "speculative fiction"

"I have never written science fiction...What I write is a kind of twisted fantasy." ~ Harlan Ellison
• Harlan Ellison's Pay the Writer (3.5 minutes, YouTube)
Harlan Ellison, Uncut (Kurt Andersen's interview with Ellison, PRI Public Radio International, 5-29-09)
Harlan Ellison: A Kind of Twisted Fantasy (12 minutes, The piece of Kurt Anderson's interview in which Ellison insists: Don't call him a science-fiction writer: Harlan Ellison considers himself the heir to Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, and Jorge Luis Borges. As a writer of "speculative fiction," he has turned out hundreds of short stories over the last 50 years. Most ranters get boring; Ellison's rants are as verbally creative as his "speculative fiction."


The best websites  for authors

The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2017 (The Write Life)
The 27 Best Writing Websites (Scribendi)
20 Online Gold Mines for Finding Well Paid Freelance Writing Jobs (The Write Life) Stroll through the Write Life site and find lots of tips for beginning writers.
Writer's Digest's Best Writing Community Websites 2021
50 Blogs for Mastering the Art, Craft, and Business of Writing (Freewrite, 10-3-18)
The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2015 (Carrie Smith, The Write Life, 1-19-15)
The 120 Most Helpful Websites For Writers in 2015 (Amanda Lin, GlobalEnglishEditing, 8-27-15)
The best websites for writers (Writer's Digest)
Top 30 Websites for Indie Authors (AME, which also hosts The Book Marketing Blog

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