Written by Emily Harstone May 21st, 2020

Manuscript Publishing as Part of a Larger Story

Most authors who are new to writing think of publishing as a three-step process. The first step is to write a manuscript, the second is to submit a manuscript, and then the third step is to publish that manuscript.

This is an over-simplification, and all of these steps have multiple components. For example, as part of the writing process most writers go through many drafts, and many people pay editors to help polish up the work.

This article is not about breaking down these three steps. This article focuses on what you need to do outside of these three steps to support the publication of the book.

In order to publish a novel, it makes a significant difference to have a publication history. One of the best ways to have a publication history is to submit to literary journals.  This article can help you get started, in terms of submitting.

Publication in journals can make a significant difference, if you mention the publications in your query letter and bio. Agents also find writers directly through reading literary journals.

Part of the reason publishers and agents like you to have a history of publication in literary journals, is that those journals will promote your manuscript if you get it published, through reviews and social media posts.

Another great way to support your manuscript is to get a social media following. People often talk about this in terms of blogging/Facebooking/Instagraming about your writing, but the authors who most successfully harness social media are the ones who generally blog about their personal life, other peoples’ books, ideas, or writing in the more general sense. This article is a good place to start to get a better feel for building your online profile.

One of the other ways to support your manuscript is to make real connections, with members of your local writing community, as well as the larger writing community, by going to readings, participating in writing groups, and attending mics, and also by going to conferences and application-only workshops. You can learn more about conferences and workshops here.  Because of the COVID-19 crisis, many conferences are canceled this year, but others are open online this year, at a decreased cost.

When you read the back of books by debut authors these days, you often can see that they were active in one or more of these ways.

I’m not saying that books aren’t published on their own strength. That certainly happens still, but you can help your manuscript out, by trying a more multi-pronged approach.

Emily Harstone is the author of many popular books, including The Authors Publish Guide to Manuscript SubmissionsThe 2019 Guide to Manuscript PublishersSubmit, Publish, Repeat, and The Authors Publish Guide to Children’s and Young Adult Publishing.

She occasionally teaches a course on manuscript publishing, as well as a course on publishing in literary journals.


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