Some basic tips for the aspiring author
  1. Write a book
    Or at least enough of one that it's clear you can finish it.
  2. Find other books like your book
    Go to the bookstore and find the shelf your book would be on: mystery novels? Beekeeping? Early modern history? Look at the newer books there that seem to be good sellers: how big are they? What is their price? What do the covers look like? If there is no shelf for your book, or if the shelf is crowded with similar books, rethink your book.
  3. Pitch your book to the publishers that publish other books on your shelf
    Go to the publishers' websites and follow their rules for submissions exactly to the letter. If there are no rules, you'll need an agent. Find agents that represent successful books like yours and follow their pitching rules exactly to the letter
  4. Reward yourself for trying
    When rejected, get an ice cream or go for a long walk instead of firing off an angry email. Then keep trying!
  5. Keep doing the work
    Before your book is accepted, keep working; start the next book! After you sign a contract, swallow your anxiety, turn in your drafts on time, and listen to your editor. When you've turned in your book, celebrate! And then keep working on the next one
  6. Celebrate!
    Reward yourself along the way--you deserve it (and it'll help motivate you). And always keep your big goals in perspective. Do you want to change the world, communicate something important to readers, or add something new to a discussion or genre? Those goals will make every step of the writing and publishing and publicity process go much more smoothly than if you're in it for the validation of a book contract or to become a literary bigwig, or to impress your disapproving grandmother.