How to get a first novel published

Hey guys.

I have just finished the first draft of my frist novel.

Ok. Now what?

Seriously. I have no idea of how to get the darn thing published.

My book is in the scifi/horror genre and I think it is quite fun really. But then I would wouldn’t I? :wink: I just need to get someone in power to read it.

Living in Cape Town South Africa I do not have access to many resources to help young writers that you lucky Americans and Brits have :slight_smile:

I could really use any advice that you could give me.

Thanks guys
-Andrew V

The best bet would be to prepare a submission and send it to a US publisher. The big problem would be to get postage for a reply, but if you send off a disposable manuscript, you can include International Reply Coupons (IRCs). You can get these from your local post office (be firm; some don’t know they exist). You’ll need at least two for a one-page letter from the US.

As far as publishers are concerned, has a list of US publishers and what they are looking for. Note that No unsolicited subs means you should never send a manuscript (or proposal) to them without asking. In addition, if they say “no unagented subs,” they mean it.

Alternatively, you can look for an agent. This will be especially useful since you’re not located in the US. When choosing an agent, however, there is one iron-clad rule: Never, under any circumstances whatsoever, pay money to an agent. If they ask for a single cent before they sell your novel, run away. Fast. Check if the agent is a member of AAS, and ask for them to list authors and recent sales (if they refuse, run away). Ignore any of these rules and you’re screwed.

Also, beware of vanity presses, especially the electronic variety. Any publisher that asks for money in advance is out to rip you off. Don’t be fooled by “print on demand” publishers – they’re just high-tech vanity presses. There isn’t a chance in hell that you’ll make any money back from them, especially with a novel. Even “PublishAmerica” – which doesn’t ask for money up front – hits you with hidden fees and doesn’t indicate the true cost of publishing, which you will be required to pay. Stay away.

You can find some general writing advice at Good luck.

Go to a local bookstore and look for a listing of Agents. I’m sure Writer’s Market publishes one. Find those that deal in horror/scifi. Collect rejection notices. Maybe get published eventually.

Or that’s the way you do it in the States.

Proofread. :slight_smile:

Cover yourself in tattoos and piercings. Be extremely young/old/female/attractive/ethnic. Have a background in crime/drug abuse/insanity. Publishers are as interested in marketable personalities as in quality of work.

You can contact all the publishers you want and it will do you no good. Almost no publishers accept manuscripts, “over the transom,” any more. You have to have an agent. Ideally an agent that has a long working history with more than one publisher.

There are several sites on the internet that list agents and their addresses, areas of interest, etc. My advise is to start writing them. A cover letter, 20-30 pages, and a SASE is what you need to send, usually.

It also helps to have a thick skin.

I wish you luck.

A publisher I know suggested looking at other titles in the sci-fi/horror genre that you like, or that are similar to your story. Call up the publishers to find out who edited these books - if an editor’s name pops up more than once, then you definitely want to contact them. Write to them along the lines of “I’m looking to get a book published, and noted that you edited X, Y and Z. I think my book would appeal to a similar audience, would you mind taking a look at it?” And if they say yes, you’ve instantly elevated your book above the piles of unsolicited manuscripts they receive every day.

She also suggested that if you do send in an unsolicited manuscript, write an interesting cover letter (not the sort where you send out 40,000 and only change the name of the publisher), and make sure the manuscript is presentable. Double spaced, neatly typed, no stains or torn pages, etc.

That’s all I can remember of what she said. I hope it helps!

You might want to check out Xlibris at
Their blurb:

I read a news article about this a year or so ago. But there is also at least one person who does not recommend the company:

Not my area of expertise. If you use this type of self-publishing, please let us know how it works out. Good luck! :cool:

Xlibris is a vanity press. You won’t accomplish anything by using a vanity press.

friedo is right. Xlibris is one of the electronic vanity presses I mentioned in my first post. It is a utter waste of your money.

The average sale for these electronic vanity presses (based upon their own sales figures) is 75 copies. And most of those 75 are books bought by the author himself (to give to friend and to distribute to reviewer and bookstores).

Stay away.