Saturday, August 04, 2007

How to Get Your Novel Published?

And You Thought Writing the Novel Was the Hard Part?

You have the novel ready. And you are now ready to count the steady flow of royalty. You have practised the odd moment of living it up like a rich person. So why is the publisher not grabbing your manuscript.

Heck - that's the reality check. Your publisher needs to feel that your manuscript is going to be the next Harry Potter or whatever last made a few good millions - for the publisher. Yes... you read that right. The publisher is really trying to gauge the readership of your novel. So in a very simplistic manner, they are not really trying to figure out if your plotline was intriguing or not. They need to know how many people are likely to BUY your novel.

How do you find a publisher?

Option 1: Get yourself invited to a dinner party where publishers are hanging out. Then try and strike up a conversation with one of 'em. NOT RECOMMENDED.

Option 2: Go to a literary festival or a writers' workshop. Helps to get you in the queue to pick up a few visiting cards of publishers and employees of publishing houses. Try and listen in to the panel discussions. That always helps. Listen to other writers and editors and publishers.

Option 3: Find yourself an agent. In US they have a book called the Writers Market. You can buy it off or a bookstore. That lists basically, which publisher is publishing the genre of novels that yours fits in. They list names of agents who will represent you to the publishers. Here is an interview with Eric Simonoff - the agent who represented Jhumpa Lahiri. Some of the agents want a "Reading Fee" - a hefty sum of money to read your manuscript with no obligations. Heck, it is a tough world.

Option 4: Keep sending the manuscript to the publishers directly. Most websites have addresses where you can mail the manuscript. Some want electronic version, some want the hardcopy, some want a pink bulldog to go with it. Whatever they want and in whatever format they want it - you increase the probability of someone reading it if you follow instructions.

And I don't know if I should say this to you, but... well... be prepared for the famous "Rejection Slip". I was told by an engineer that the number of rejection slips will always be one less than the number of manuscripts you have mailed, since one of them will be the acceptance slip. In mathematical terms the rejection slips will be n-1 if n is the number of manuscripts mailed. Well - he was wrong. I got more rejection slips than manuscripts mailed (one publisher sent me two of those pre-printed ones).

See sample Rejection Slip below


Your writing has a refreshing style and the plotline was really gripping and fabulous.

However... - this where it gets creative -

a) we have just stopped publishing this genre/ category of novels/ poems

b) we are understaffed and will not be able to pay attention to the manuscript for the next five years/ sixty months - whichever is later!

c) you have just missed the submission deadline for the next five years.

Yours sincerely (if THAT is sinecerely, I wonder what is not)


Anonymous said...

Oh my God! For me, your blog was deja vu all the way. I am somewhere in the middle of send manuscript- wait for feedback - try not to be neurotic - show resilience when you see Penguin's e- auto rejection slip- process

Your words have put a smile on my face though...

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Abhijit Bhaduri said...

Hi Priya
Your comment encouraged me to put the latest blog entry.

Shyamali said...

A hilarious piece Abhijit.and reality too!

If this is the reality now, I wonder what it would be like in future when there will be more authors than publishers.This is considering the fact that the market for Indian writing is growing in leaps and bounds.But sadly, I would say, most of the stuff churned out in the name of Indian writing in English are, boring and cliche.Oddly enough,they have found publishers. Then, why is a writer whose debut book had been in the best seller list,still searching for one? I really fail to understand the strange psychology of this breed called PUBLISHERS.