As an aspiring author, you are one of the lucky ones with a unique gift for storytelling.

Now that you’ve decided to take a stab at writing your first novel, you may be unsure about how to get a novel published. With your sights set on seeing your work of fiction competing in the literary marketplace, it’s time to tackle the steps to make that happen.

Whether you plan to self-publish your novel or go the traditional publishing route, the road to publication entails very similar steps. The key to accomplishing your goal will depend greatly on how well you navigate the steps to getting a novel published.

Approach the project as you would any other business goal, never losing sight of your book as a potential income-producing asset. The more planning and effort you put into the pre-publication process, the better the outcome will be.

Traditional vs. Self-Publishing for Your First Novel

It helps to decide at the outset whether you will be self-publishing your novel or attempting to land an agent to represent you. Industry standards dictate how to format your manuscript from front to back for traditional publishing and slightly different formatting for self-publishing.

It is always possible to switch gears part way through, although it will cause some extra work. Best to decide on your preferred pathway to publication right up front, and then go from there.

Going the traditional route to publication will involve significant time and effort to acquire a literary agent. In most cases, traditional publishers do not work directly with authors, thus the need for an agent. In essence, this means enticing an agent through the query process to represent your manuscript and eventually cut a deal with a publishing house. Generally, the agent receives 15% of the publishing deal.

Each literary agency has its own set of submission guidelines. Once you have emailed the requested items, you then begin the waiting game. Some agents will immediately reply—usually, these are rejection emails—while others will prepare you to wait several weeks for their response.

Fortunately, there is more than one route available for publishing your novel. With the advent of self-publishing, authors can now pursue an independent path to publication.

The self-publishing route puts the writer in the driver’s seat. You control the entire process, enjoy creative freedom, and retain all rights to your novel. Self-publishing offers a workaround the legacy publishing houses that are so difficult to penetrate and allows you to achieve your publication goals.

5 Steps to Getting a Novel Published

So then, how do you get a novel published? Follow these 5 basic steps:

Create the first draft

Every great novel has to start somewhere. The first draft allows the author to flesh out the characters, develop a story arc, create the setting, decide on the point of view, and make a chapter outline. Don’t worry about editing or fine-tuning the first draft. Just let your fingers fly as you give birth to your story.

Self-edit and refine

Before you consider sending your manuscript off to an editor, you will first need to clean it up. This likely involves writing several drafts as you identify plot issues, undeveloped characters, awkward passages, and, of course, those nasty typos. It helps to print the manuscript and painstakingly edit one chapter at a time.

Get some eyes on it

Once your manuscript is tidied up and presentable, find two or three beta readers to pass it off to. These folks can provide an abundance of constructive advice after reading through the manuscript—things that you may not have considered while writing it.

Hire an editor

After considering the beta reader feedback and making any subsequent adjustments to the manuscript, your book will be ready for a professional editing service. A book editor has the know-how to publish a novel. He or she can further improve the manuscript by tweaking the pace, improving the flow, and making other such changes to elevate the reader experience. Formatting, line editing, and proofreading help achieve the polished final product.

Hire a cover designer

A novel with a bad cover is doomed. Novels, in particular, are highly dependent on the cover to help sell the book. Designing a dazzling book cover isn’t something most authors are capable of producing. Hire a professional book cover designer for the impressive cover your novel deserves.

While the author can create a compelling story, an editor knows how to get your novel published. Do not make the mistake of believing you can handle these important aspects of self-publishing on your own.

Learn More About How to Make Your Self-Published Novel a Success

Now that you know how to get your novel published, the next step is to execute the plan. Start by writing a page-turner, then make the effort to perfect it as much as possible, and, finally, turn to a publishing professional to carry it over the finish line. Gatekeeper Press provides the entire spectrum of self-publishing services, including editing and formatting, proofreading, cover design, and illustration. Call Gatekeeper Press today!

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