3 Things You Can Do Right Now That Will Get You Published Faster

If you want to get ahead of the publishing game before you even hammer out that first draft, you need to write these three things first:

  1. Your pitch
  2. Your synopsis (or your book jacket, for you pantsers who don’t like much detail)
  3. Your query letter

You do not have to know every detail of your story before you sit down to write it, but you absolutely do have to know the details that will make your story unique and riveting. In other words, you have to know the details that will make the publishing industry give a damn about your book. 

I’m not saying that you should only focus on what you think will sell (which usually never works anyway because you either guess wrong or you find yourself at the tail end of a dying trend); what I am saying is that you need to be realistic.

If you want to traditionally publish, you need to win over an agent, an editor, and eventually an entire publishing house before your book hits the market. That means you need to know how to pitch your book to their bottom line.

(And if you want to indie publish, the game is pretty much the same. You still need to convince people—i.e., your readers—in a very short amount of space that your book is worth buying.)

So it makes sense that the first thing you need to do with a potential story is figure out how you’d pitch it. The worst thing you can do is finish writing your book, only to rudely discover that what you thought you were going to write—and what was going to skyrocket your book to best-sellerdom—isn’t actually what you ended up writing after going down rabbit hole after rabbit hole.

Why You Need a Pitch Before You Write

A pitch isn’t just to sell your book; it’s to keep you focused during the writing process. Tape it above your computer and ask yourself every day, Is this still what I’m writing about, or has it changed?

If it’s changed (and if you’re a pantser that’s probably the case), that’s okay. But now you need to figure out what it is you are writing about—because there’s a good chance you’re not writing about anything, at least not anything publishable, and you’ll have to do a lot of re-writing.

Must-Haves for Writing Pitches and Queries

For some great examples of professional pitches, subscribe to Publishers Lunch, the free daily email from Publishers Marketplace, which lists recent book deals and their one-sentence descriptions. Simply by reading this one thing every day you will better understand what sells and how it sells (i.e., how to write a pitch that’s worth pitching). 

For query-letter writing, check out this excellent article from Jane Friedman: The Complete Guide to Query Letters That Get Manuscript Requests.

And to top it off, in an upcoming post I’ll share the best advice I’ve found on how to nail down your pitch quickly and painlessly.

Sign up now for more valuable tips from a professional editor.

5 thoughts on “3 Things You Can Do Right Now That Will Get You Published Faster

  1. The other day, I was browsing story architecture books in Waterstones and I had a thought.

    Quite simply, none of them are as good as your blog.

    Your blog helps me visualize stories, I can imagine a series with iterations coming closer together to cause suspense, I know what ingredients make up the midpoint of a book.

    So why don’t you (and apologies if you are already doing this because it’s a bit obvious!) write “the ultimate story architecture of architectures” book, with pictures. Including:

    – All the story architecture techniques on ONE PAGE, larry brooks, nigel watts, the hero’s journey. One timeline at the top, then a row describing the pinch points, call to adventure, denoument etc.

    – Reviews, challenge readers to come up with a great book that doesn’t follow any architecture method. Expand from rowling to review hunger games, gladiator, shawshank, cry wolf and other great books, films and stories.

    – A summary of all how to get published tips, I’ve read thousands and can’t remember any.

    – Short stories, are these a compressed version of the main event?

    – Story engineering gone mad, a storyline that spans 8 books, series that morph into other series…

    – Exercises, maybe take a core story like red riding hood and challenge readers to add in series and create surprise. Visuals describing series, suspense, shock surprise

    If you write it, I promise to buy it in hard cover!!! xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Isobella – you sure know how to make a person’s day! It’s comments like yours that keep me going. Whatwith very energetic twin toddlers to take care of and a husband swamped in medical school, I sometimes find it very difficult to rationalize spending time on my blog. Of course I dream someday of writing my own book and when that day comes, you’ll certainly be getting a free copy for cheering me on when I needed it most. (And I’m very jealous you live in Europe – when I finally get over there again, I’m crashing at your place!)

      Like

      1. Deal 🙂 And I’m right there with you, ish. I have a 5 year old and a 1 year old, for whom sleeping is not high on the priority list. Although I can’t claim twin toddlers, the zombie factor is quite significant.

        However, that gives me a few years to learn everything I didn’t learn (and outright slept through) in high school English, before embarking upon a novel. In the meantime, I get a few hours week, during lunch breaks from my London day job, to go someplace inspirational, like a museum and dream up ideas. In the limited time my current lifestyle affords, I might try my hand at a children’s book. Applying the architecture method to a 12 page book does work… but it is quite a challenge!

        And in the meantime… keep writing 🙂

        Like

  2. Thanks for this. Honest advice about the harsh realities of seeking traditional publishing. It is a business. I learned this after writing a few unpublish-worthy novels and I’m now a better writer for it.

    Like

    1. That’s a great attitude, Sarah! I’m lucky to have a great group of readers here that choose to see the writing glass half full rather than half empty. They continually inspire me. I wish you the very best of luck – a success for one of us is a success for all of us. Hope to hear from you again soon!

      Like

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