getting (a book) published (part 3)

Welcome to Day 3 of Writer’s Week!

If you missed Day 1 and Day 2, go ahead and catch up. I’m not going anywhere. And may I suggest that you read the comments too, because WOW. They’re better than the posts themselves, and I’m not even kidding. Your words have enlightened, encouraged, motivated and blessed me this week, friends. Wow-zers. (And I’ll be answering more of your questions in tomorrow’s post.)

So. Let’s just jump right on the elephant in the room. You dream of getting a book published. And you’d like me to kindly tell you how to do it.

Once again, I’m going to direct you to a post I’ve already written. This one is from February 2008–My Journey to Publication. This is the link I send to the many people who say things like, “So, you’re a published author. I want to be a published author. Tell me everything you know.”

Go read the post. You won’t be sorry (discouraged maybe, but not sorry).

So, that’s my unconventional journey. Like I said, I doubt it will be of any help to you. Bummer, I know.

Here’s what you can do in 3 easy steps: 1. write a book; 2. submit a query letter to an agent of your choice; and 3. wait to hear what he/she has to say.

But more likely than not, your journey to publication is going to entail way more blood, sweat, tears–and years–than that. I am all about encouraging people to pursue their dreams–you know that–but I’m also not going to lie to you. It’s not going to be easy.

Have you ever read a book and thought, “Oh my goodness. I could totally write a book better than that one.” Okay. So do it. Writing a book of publishable quality is harder than you might think. Really. Ask the thousands and thousands of writers who are handed a rejection slip every month.

I don’t know where you are on your writing journey. Let’s say you’re starting from scratch. Here are some things I recommend (and they’re going to take a lot of time):

1. Spend a lot of time in prayer and reading God’s Word. My relationship with Christ is paramount when it comes to my writing (and everything else in my life). When I’m drawing close to the Lord, my writing has depth, feeling. When I’m drifting from God, my writing feels empty. Surrender your dreams to God–even your writing ones.

2. Do your homework. Read up on the world of book publishing. It’s never been easier to do this. Tons of agents blog valuable inside information every day. My personal favorite? This gal. (she has tons of links in her sidebar to just about everything you’d ever need to know) I like this guy too. Read what these agents are saying. Learn what they’re looking for. Read other writers’ comments. Study, research, learn.

3. Read a lot. Read the kinds of books you want to write. And read some books that are nothing like what you want to write. Read books that teach you the craft of writing. Read bestsellers. Read, read, read whenever you can.

4. Write. All the time. Write more than you read. Write when you’re inspired and when you’re not. Write in a journal and on blank paper and on your computer. Write a blog. Write comments on other people’s blogs. Write letters to your kids. And your grandma. Write, write, write.

5. Build a platform. This one is tricky. Basically, what it means is this: if you’re writing non-fiction, you have to become “known” as somewhat of an “expert” in your field. If you’re going to write a book on parenting, why would anyone read your book when there are hundreds of parenting experts out there writing books? (this platform thing could be its own post)

6. Meet with other writer people who will help you polish your work. I have never done this. I still think it’s a good idea.

7. Revise your writing constantly. You can always make it better. Read it out loud. How does it flow? Does it sound natural or forced? How’s your word choice?Are your sentences clear? Concise?

8.-10. Write your book, write a proposal, send a query letter to an agent. (Repeat if necessary.)

Be prepared for lots of hard work, lots and lots of waiting, some tough blows, some criticism and rejection, some disappointment.

But is it worth every minute of it? If it’s what God is calling you to do, it is. It is for me.

What questions do you have about getting published (or anything else pertaining to writing)? (If I seem to have left out a lot, it’s because I left out a lot. Rome wasn’t built in a day.)

See you tomorrow for Part 4!

11 thoughts on “getting (a book) published (part 3)

  1. Pingback: so, you wanna get a book published? | Marla Taviano

  2. Crissy

    Great post!!! I totally appreciate the unconventional journey. I am in the learning as much as I can stage, because I am not totally sure where God is going to take all of these things He has me writing about. I love your suggestions on what to do and how to keep at it!

    Right now I am just trying to get thoughts on paper and try to organize those thoughts. And if you could see into my brain you would know this is not an easy task! 😉

  3. Mindy May

    My only question would be … do you think there is a topic or a genre that too many people are trying to write about? Wait … does that make sense? Lets try again … could you be turned down by a publisher because too many people have tried to write the same book you have? There much better.

  4. Megan@SortaCrunchy

    Fantastic advice, friend!

    This sentence: “Surrender your dreams to God–even your writing ones.” Yeah. Struggling here. Mightily.

    And that leads me to my question on publishing: What are your thoughts on self-publishing and/or e-books in this era when publishers are more and more picky about what they’ll consider publishing?

    ♥ you, mama!

  5. whimzie

    This post makes my heart happy and my stomach hurt at the same time and I have no idea why.

    If I were truly a writer I would use words to explain the previous sentence.

  6. Lisa H

    Well, I did it! I sat my tail down last night and wrote even though I didn’t feel like doing it. My GOAL was to write for 15 minutes, and I wrote for 20 minutes. Once I got started, everything flowed, and I really enjoyed it. WooHoo! Now, consistency is the key.

    Great post today, Marla. Much of what you wrote was what I learned at She Speaks this summer. I highly recommend that conference to anyone who is an aspiring writer, speaker, or women’s ministry leader. It was the most inspiring, worshipful, and practical conference I have ever been to. Check out

    Thanks again, Marla. The posts and the comments have been very encouraging to me.

  7. Rebecca

    Hi there! Did I miss the giveaway announcement? I can’t find it anywhere! HELP! 🙂

    Loving this writing series…very good stuff indeed!

    Prayers and blessings,

  8. Jonna

    I have been attempting to gain employment outside the home for the past 5 months (glad it didn’t happen due to unforseen circumstances). I have been corresponding with some family members and feeling a bit inadequate and depressed about it… then my Uncle Grayson told me that rejection happens. He shared that Jonathan Livingston Seagull was rejected 18 times before being picked up by a publisher… here are a few more that I found. I hope this adds a bit of light to a dreary path.

    Auntie Maime rejected 15 times
    Carrie (Stephen King) rejected 30 times
    Dr Seuss books rejected 15 times
    Harry Potter rejected 9 times
    Gone with the Wind rejected a whopping 38 times
    and……last but certainly not least….
    Chicken Soup for the Soul…. rejected an unheard of 140 times… no that isn’t a typo.
    I found these listed in several places but am including the most recent site as citation

    I hope this is a blessing to someone!

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