Many people have these ideas and think, “Hey, this would make a great story. I’ll sit down and write a novel. People will love it, they will buy it and I can ride my idea to fame and fortune.”
Unfortunately, though, the odds are heavily stacked against Joe or Jane Average becoming a published novelist, let alone a successful one.
Using hard work and a method I’m sharing in a series of blog posts, I managed to beat the odds and have a publishing company pick up my first novel. Love Comes With a Leash is now available at Liquid Silver Books.
There are a lot of obstacles authors tend to place in their own paths, plus pitfalls that can doom even the best intentions. With that warning in mind, an author’s first step after they have an idea is to research the market for it.
Marketing professionals will tell anyone willing to listen that good companies look to see what already exists before they decide what products to produce. There is no sense spending the time and money required to bring a product to market if the market is already flooded with similar products.
A critical point in marketing is positioning your product so it can succeed, not fail. The best way to do that from a potential author’s perspective is to examine publishers’ writing guidelines before you start.
For example, Karen Fox has a detailed list of Romance Publishers on her website.
Read the comments as a starting point before following a link to the publisher’s guidelines.
· Some publishers only accept stories from established literary agents representing authors that have a proven track record of above-average sales. Skip these publishers until you have several books published.
· Concentrate on publishers willing to accept unsolicited manuscripts since your first book will likely fall in that category.
Examine several website for notes, hints and guidelines in terms of what each publisher will consider or reject outright. Avon Romance is a good starting point. Liquid Silver Books is another.
Common comments include preferred genres (Steam Punk, Historical Romances), minimum and maximum lengths (in words), types of language, situations to concentrate on (super sexy heroes or heroines) and situations to avoid (anything remotely resembling rape when used for titillation).
Examine the FAQ (frequently asked questions) sections. Here you can find questions you might ask when submitting your book.
Taking notes will help you decide where to eventually submit manuscript and which publishers to avoid.
Only after you complete the publisher research does it make sense to research your topic and eventually start writing.
Author’s Note: I am a Certified Technical Writer, former weekly newspaper editor and now published author of Love Comes With a Leash.