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Brief Guide to Publishing

You’ve written a book and you want to know how to get a publisher. I receive weekly requests about information about how to get published. Everyone who writes book had the same problem. No one was born with a publishing contract in clutched in their fist.

First, you must be realistic about the obstacles and competition. There are 10 times more people writing books today from 20 years ago when I was first published in New York. And the number of publishers had shrunk to the point where it has collapsed into a black hole with 7 leading publishers. The number of people buying fiction is no greater (if not less readers) than before. Blame the Internet. Blame Reality TV. Blame Video games. The attention devoted to book reading diminishes every year. Understand what you are up against.

Second, you won’t find much opportunity for publishing English language fiction in Asia. Asia is a region; it is not one, unified book market. What sells like hotcakes in Singapore won’t necessary work in Thailand. There are few publishers in Thailand who will look at an unsolicited manuscript. One is Bangkok Books You would have to email them about submission policy.

Third, if you want a publisher who pays an advance against royalties to read and consider your manuscript, you will need a literary agent. The days are long gone when legitimate publishers considered unsolicited manuscripts. They were swamped then, but they would be under water. Also they are afraid of getting sued. There are good agent, average agents and crooked agents. A good site to find out the crooks in this business is Preditors and Editors:

Fourth, you need a manuscript in near perfect condition before an agent will be interested. The agent won’t edit your book. An editor probably won’t do much editing either. They want a book that is ready to be published. They won’t hold your hand. Whatever you read about the old days when editors in green eye shades labored over manuscripts to nurture the creativity talent of an author are from a prior age. That age is long over. You need to find an editor who can go through and find all of the mistakes and typos that you no longer see because you wrote the book. Again the website at Preditors and Editors is a good place to start.

Fifth, you’ve managed to do the impossible: you have a publisher who has sent you a contract. You’re not a copyright lawyer; you’re not an insider in the industry so don’t know what much of the language means or whether the contract is fair. As to what it means, your agent is there for that. If you don’t have an agent, hire a lawyer. Or if that is out of the question (lawyers charge for time in a way that a novelist could only envy), the check out an industry standard contract written to ensure that the author gets a fair shake. The Mystery Writers contract is a good place to start.

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