It’s not easy to get published.

Dark Awakening was rejected by 9 publishers, before being selected by Black Velvet Seductions. This can be disheartening, even to the most thick-skinned of writers.

But with a bit of careful planning, research and preparation, you can increase the chance  your manuscript will capture the eye of a reputable publishing agent.

Before you send that manuscript

A painter would never try to sell the outline of their painting. So unless you’re E.L. James, Diana Gabaldon or a number of other well known writers, you should plan to finish your manuscript and spend time crafting and perfecting your masterpiece before you submit it to publishers.  What you are giving them needs to be a solid reflection of your skills and talent as a writer.  Make your work memorable and original, and show the publisher why you are worth their investment!getting your romance novel published

Have someone proofread and edit your work. . . not your favorite aunt or journalism-degree-seeking nephew. Invest a little time in hiring a qualified editing service. I use Scribendi and you can find some great writers and editors on Fiverr (it will cost you more than $5!) as well. You may also find it beneficial to have someone else write your query letter and synopsis of your book. Again, I used Scribendi and I was glad I did: the agent I worked with spotted holes and red flags in my manuscript that I was able to fix prior to final submission. A fresh set of eyes is worth its weight in gold!

Research publishers

A good place to start is with the Writer’s Market. it’s a directory of book editors, publishing houses and literary agents—all with contact information, tips for getting published and additional resources. It’s well worth the cost and should hold a position of honor in every serious writer’s library. Narrow your list to your top 10 choices and go online to review their websites, read author reviews and play detective. Pay special attention to their terms: Do they only publish digitally? What are their payment terms? Do their authors give them a thumbs up? Be ruthless in your investigation!

Next, read some books that have been published by other authors they carry. Are they error free, quality reads? Do some research online for some of those titles. Does the publishing house regularly promote their authors? Try typing the publisher’s URL into SEMRush (a free tool that lets you see how much traffic a website gets.) If their site gets very little traffic, this should be a warning flag and you should move that publisher to the bottom of your list.

Refine Your Target Audience and Genre

Your genre determines the process of submission to a publisher.  All genres do not require the same submission processes, and it is important to do careful and diligent research on the publisher’s submission guidelines, desires, and necessities.  Do not allow yourself to get lazy and assume all publishers are the same.  If you have specific hopes about your submission, find a publisher that aligns with your idea of what you want your submission to be. Again, the Writer’s Guide is a great tool for helping you complete this vital leg work.

Be Prepared to Market Your Book

This is one I wasn’t quite prepared for. As a professional marketer, I had a rough idea of some tactics I could use for self promotion, but I hadn’t really mapped anything out or given it more than a brief nod. Strange, huh?

But as any good marketer will tell you, you need to have a well defined road map that aligns with the objective you are trying to achieve. There are several free tools and channels available that you can use to market your book. Organic efforts like search optimization, social media, PR and partner efforts are great places to start. For not much investment, you can establish a website, run sponsored ads on Facebook, start a Google AdWords campaign and create a book trailer.

Don’t assume your publisher will market your book. While they may highlight your work from time to time and include it in professional pushes for their publishing house, the majority of the heavy lifting will fall to you. Don’t neglect this important task. As writers, our tendency is to dive into the next novel, but carve out some time to focus on your marketing plan. Your book—and your wallet—will thank you!

The choice to self publish

With digital printing available to anyone today, you may want to think twice about selling the rights to your book when you could do the leg work yourself. Many digital publishing houses use the same tools available to you—and with lots of creative talent for cover art, editing, motion graphics and more available online, self publishing is becoming much more accessible and affordable.

When trying to figure out how to become a published author, it can be a challenge to know where to begin. Information is everywhere, and while this can be helpful, it can also be daunting! But careful planning, research and persistence will help vault your dreams into reality.

What are some tips or advice you have to offer new authors? Leave them below in the comments.