Wednesday, June 2, 2010

7 Tips For Getting Published by Carol Amato

When I hosted Carol on my blog last week, I realized that with over 20 books under her belt that she could teach us a lot. So is an article written by her especially for this blog on 7 Tips for Getting Published.

“How do I get published?”

This is a question every new writer has.

Most new writers think that the major New York houses are the only way a book ends up seeing the light of day. The truth is that with all the buyouts and mergers that have occurred in the publishing world lately, there are only six major publishers left: Simon & Schuster, Random House, Penguin Group, HarperCollins Publishing, Hachette Book Group, and Holtzbrink Publishers. These large companies have gobbled up the other major houses. The result is that this significantly lessens one’s chances of getting published. Writers may send queries to several publishers, not realizing that those queries end up in the same office—the one that receives the mail for all the imprints in a conglomerate.

So—is New York the only way to get published?


Here are seven tips for getting your work sold.

1. Seek out a small press. A very prolific writer recently said, “Eighty percent of the writers go after twenty percent of the market.” That means that eighty percent of the writers are submitting to the six major houses. At the same time, eighty percent of the publishers—the small ones—get far fewer submissions—and the competition is only twenty percent of the writers. Why not enhance your chances of getting published by going after the eighty percent of the market that few writers are pursuing?

While a small publisher may not have the prestige of a larger one, it still has entre with the distribution chain that is necessary to get your book to market. In addition, your book may come out sooner than with a larger publisher.

A smaller publisher may spend more time at trade shows and book fairs pushing your book because it has only a handful of titles in any given season versus a large publisher, who will have many and who will push only their well-known writers.

2. Hone your craft. Learn the ins and outs of your type of writing by listening to free teleseminars and webinars, reading writers’ magazines and books, and taking writing classes.

· Listen to free teleseminars and webinars. These are offered all the time on the Internet. You can either call in by phone or listen via the speakers on your computer. The information gained here is tremendously helpful.

· Read writers’ magazines/books. Read The Writer and/or Writers’ Digest or other writers’ magazines. Subscribe to them, if you can afford it. Check out books in your local library (make sure the copyrights are recent). The tips you get are invaluable.

· Take writing classes. If you write fiction, take classes in how to structure novels. If you write nonfiction, take classes in how to write articles and nonfiction books. Learn to compose proper query letters and proposals. Free or low-cost classes are available through Adult Ed, the extensions of local community colleges, and online.

3. Join a critique group. Getting into a critique group is critical to ensuring your writing is at a publishable level. If there isn’t one near you, start one or join one online. The feedback you’ll get will help you fix any problems before your manuscript lands on an editor’s desk.

4. Build a track record. Get articles published in local papers—not big city/town papers but the throwaways, those freebies that get tossed on the driveway. Most often, these papers don’t pay anything; if they do, it is a minimal amount. If you are a new writer, though, this shouldn’t matter. Your aim is to build a portfolio. Save copies of each article and put them in a binder. Even if you are writing fiction, having a professional nonfiction body of work behind you will count for a lot. No one needs to know if you were paid or not.

5. Create a website
. Using a FREE site like, you can create your website with drag-and-drop ease. Include your photo on the main page and samples of your work on some of the subpages. Add links to any articles you’ve written, if they are online. You can also scan them in and put them on your site. When you query editors or agents, you can point them to your website for the detail about your writing background.

6. Start a blog. Weebly will allow you to have a blog on your site. If you don’t want it there, set one up on, which is also free. You can blog about topics that relate to your books or articles or anything else people will find of interest. Yes, people really do read them. Follow blogs created by other writers, editors, and agents and comment on them so that they get to know you.

7. Use social media. From a marketing standpoint, this is the wave of the future. At the very least, set up a Twitter account and a Facebook profile and fan page (information about your writing can go on your fan page but not on your profile page). Follow other writers and post messages to them. Your aim is to get your name well-known in the publishing circles so that when you do submit a manuscript, that editor or agent will have an easy time finding you on the Internet.

Of course, there is no guarantee that anyone will get published, but following these tips can greatly increase your chances.

To learn more about Carol and her books/writing, visit these links:


Nicole Zoltack said...

Awesome tips. Getting published isn't easy but it's worth all the heartache and grind and tears.

Btw, there's an award for you on my blog. :)

Cheryl said...

Excellent article, Carol. Thanks for the tips.


Anonymous said...

Great tips Carol.
J. Aday Kennedy
The Differently-Abled Writer
Children's picture Book Klutzy Kantor
Coming Soon Marta Gargantuan Wings

Vivian Zabel said...

The tips are ones that will help anyone seeking to be published.

Of course number 2 is a must - Hone your craft.

Margaret Fieland said...

Carol, great tips. I have to admit I don't listen to the many great teleclasses -- perhaps this will be the jolt I need to get my act together and do so.

Margaret Fieland

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Carol, this is a wonderful list of reminders. Thank you!

Lisabet Sarai said...

All excellent recommendations, Carol,

If I might add a few more suggestions:

- Build relationships with other authors and with publishers: participate in group blogs or writers' email lists. Invest some time in guest blogging and then reciprocate.

- Don't write one book and then spend all your time trying to publish it. Keep writing, balancing that with your efforts to find a publisher. In both NY and the indie world, publishers are interested in authors who can produce good work over the long haul.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carol J. Amato said...

Thanks for all the great comments, everyone. And I love those additional ideas, Lisabet!