Into the Great Beyond: So You’re Ready to Submit?
By: Clay Gilbert
So, you think you’ve written the next Great American Novel—or at least a book you feel proud of and think is worthy of sharing with the world. So, what now?
First, make sure you’re ready.
Make sure you’ve gotten some other eyes on the manuscript—beta readers, as they’re called in the trade—people you can trust to tell you what’s brilliant and what smells like a carton of milk two weeks past its sell-by date. Make sure, once the story itself shines, that you’ve proofread, and asked others to proofread—you’ve written a brilliant story, and you want it to look brilliant as well—professionally formatted, with every word spelled right and every subject and verb in agreement.
Think about what you want—every market isn’t for every author.
I would advise doing research into publishers and agents online. Think about the genre of your work; agents, and even specific publishers, may have genre specializations and preferences. Here are some online resources that may prove useful:
http://spywriter.com/publishers.html (This site also includes an agent list)
http://www.newpages.com/book-publishers/ (a list of independent publishers)
Be aware of the advantages and disadvantages to various approaches—for example, a contract with one of the Big Five publishers in New York may offer high visibility, advance payment, and easier placement in brick-and-mortar bookstores, but many small presses offer one-on-one attention to clients and individual authorial input into the publishing process not available with large publishers. Also, small-press and independent publishing may offer longer-lasting profits, since after the payout of the initial advance, the Big Five typically don’t pay anything else until production and promotion costs are recouped, which in some cases never happens.
Above all, before you submit your work, make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward. You’re not only putting your book out there—in a very real sense, you’re putting yourself out there; taking your first steps onto the publishing stage. So make them confident steps, but also make sure that the work you’re submitting is something you can be justified in having confidence in. Doing that will help ensure that the editors and publishers who see your work will feel justified in doing the same.
Clay Gilbert has been hearing the voices of aliens, vampires, and people from the future since about the age of four. It wasn’t long before he started to think taking notes on what they said might be a good idea. This has led him many places—through the halls and classrooms of many schools, where he’s been both in front of the teacher’s desk and behind it, himself—to presenter’s podiums at conventions, and, most often, to the comfortable chair behind his writing desk at home, where he uses his Dell computer as both a beacon and a translator for the voices that still find their way through from countless worlds and planes of existence. Clay is the author of Annah: Children of Evohe, Book One, Dark Road to Paradise, and Eternity, as well as the Chief Editor for PDMI Publishing. These days, the place he calls home is Knoxville, Tennessee, where his cat, Bella, and his ball python, Andy, keep him company between visits from a teenaged alien named Annah, an undead, blood-drinking English professor named Martin Cabot, and a boy from the future named Eternity. And it’s a good thing, too—life is busy. And Clay’s still taking notes.