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5 Tips In Obtaining A Publishing Contract

Lots of Bang2writers contact me asking, “I’ve written a book … now what??” Well, if you’ve decided traditional publishing is for you, then author @EC_Jarvis has some great tips for you in attracting that elusive contract. Best of luck out there!


Let’s assume that you’ve completed your book already and edited it at least five times yourself (and I mean really edited – not just glanced over the words), or paid a professional to do the legwork. Now you’re ready to start submitting to publishers. Hooray! Good for you. A different level of work now begins.

1) Research

There are an incredible number of publishing companies in the world. Despite this, they are all very busy, as the sheer volume of submissions they receive from writers is mind boggling. You could pen a generic query and fling it with vigour at any publisher who has been gracious enough to put their email address on the internet. Alternatively, you can conduct a lot of research. Narrow down your selection to people who are actively looking for your genre. Read up on their submission requirements and be sure to tailor your approach to each one. If you are seen to care about the publisher, then they will be more likely to care about you and your work. If you put no effort into getting to know them, then don’t be surprised when they treat you the same way.

Study your market – target your approach to publishers, don’t waste your time sending a chick lit novella to someone who mainly deals in sci-fi. MORE: 5 Times It’s OK To Sacrifice Facts For Drama

2) Social Media Presence

Something most publishers look for these days is a writer who is engaged in the marketing process. You have to stand out from the crowd of other writers who land on their desks, and not just in your manuscript. It’s about the package, the author can no longer sit in silence and never show their face -well I’ll admit, a select few may be able to pull this off- for the rest of us, we need to be seen and if your work is signed, it will be expected of you. If you manage to catch their attention with your writing, they will google you and check your twitter feed and facebook account. Don’t have any of these? Get them. Imagine if a publisher goes looking for you and finds nothing, what a disappointment. Become active in the online world and showcase your writing talent in as many ways as possible.

Online world – create a presence on the internet, even if you’re a newcomer. MORE: 4 Indispensable Social Media Platforms For Writers

3) Professionalism

Writing is a profession. Therefore it demands that you act with professionalism. Approach each email, or letter with that in mind. Make sure your writing is free of typos and has a professional voice. Speak (type) with experience and confidence even if you have none. Inexperience is glaringly obvious in most cases, so learn to fake it until you make it.

Presentation – there are ways to show your personality without seeming unprofessional, try to imagine how others would perceive you. MORE: 10 Ways To Make A Good Impression As A Writer 

Publishers must be able to find you online – and act professional!

 4) Editing

Just as it is important to edit your novel, it is vital that you read your query and covering email over and over again. Have someone else read it for you as well before you send it. You’d be surprised how easy those little typos slip in, and once you click send you can’t take it back. That first impression is imperative and if you screw it up then you’ve lost your chance.

Proofread – every email, every blog, every version of your biography must undergo as much editing as your novel. MORE: 5 Questions To Help Edit Your Work

5) Planning And Patience!

Publishers are busy people, so you have to be prepared to spend some time waiting. It is helpful to have a plan of attack. Chose a selection of no more than five publishers at a time and really put some effort into targeting them, then submit and wait.

Your book isn’t going anywhere … In the meantime, you can make use of the wait to edit again or work on your next book. Be prepared for rejections, I don’t know of a single author who was lucky enough to have launched a successful career on the first query. So cherish those knock backs – they are little rites of passage – and move on. Keep on going until you’ve queried every publisher in the known world. If all else fails, there’s always self-publishing.

Get organised – don’t just wing your submissions, make an action plan of who you’re going to send work to and when. MORE: 29 Ways NOT To Submit To An Agent by Carole Blake

Best of luck and write on!


EJ AuthorBIO: E.C. Jarvis is a British author living in Hampshire with her husband, daughter and cat. She writes mainly speculative and fantasy fiction. You can find more info on her website, HERE. Follow her as @EC_Jarvis on Twitter and her new book is available for pre-order on Amazon or direct via the publisher, HERE.

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