Steps Along the Pathway to Publication

Runner checks time during marathon - Photo by Timothy Patrick Morrill

Committing to writing for the purpose of publication is a marathon, not a sprint. While there is the daily pleasure of transforming ideas into words, the more challenging goal of making your words palatable to others is not a speedy process.

To help pace myself, I have found it helpful to learn about the journey other writers have taken to get their work out there for the world to read. From books, magazines, and blogs I’ve read, here are the basic steps: 

  1. Make commitment to writing for the purpose of publication
  2. Complete first draft of manuscript (while juggling the rest of your life)
  3. Celebrate
  4. Prepare manuscript for public consumption through editing, editing, and more editing (including several “first readers” – perhaps even hiring a professional editor)
  5. Educate yourself: go to writers conferences and read books, articles, and blogs about writing and the publishing business. (Note this is intentionally Step 4, not Step 1. If you wait until you feel fully prepared before you start writing, you’ll never start writing. You will never learn all there is to know; don’t let it keep you from the craft!)
  6. Build an effective online platform: blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  This is a huge, ongoing step!
  7. Develop your writing community: build relationships with fellow writers, both online and in person via online critique groups, writing groups in your area, conferences, etc.
  8. Begin the agent query process (query letter, referral, conference, etc.)
  9. Receive a rejection letter from an agent. Or 2, or 3, or 49.  Expect it. Learn from it. Go back to #8.
  10. Receive request for additional pages or entire manuscript from agent
  11. Manuscript is accepted (go to #12) or rejected (go back to #8) by agent
  12. Get an agent so excited about your work that they want to represent you
  13. Celebrate
  14. Agent requests several rounds of edits. You comply, happily.
  15. Agent begins the search for the right publisher for your novel
  16. Receive more rejection letters. Expect it. Learn from it.
  17. Editor at publishing house requests entire manuscript
  18. Manuscript goes to editorial team
  19. Manuscript goes to publishing committee
  20. Manuscript is accepted (go to #21) or rejected (go back to #15)
  21. Agent closes a deal for you with a publisher
  22. Celebrate
  23. Publisher requests several rounds of edits. You comply, happily.
  24. Book is published
  25. Celebrate
  26. Promote the published book
  27. Repeat the entire process

What’s the matter? Overwhelmed? Wanna quit? Don’t. Tenacity, fortitude, bravery… these are just a few words that come to mind. We are writers. We can do this.

If it was easy, everyone would do it!

As for the timeline…  In articles and blogs I’ve read, I’ve learned that a realistic outlook is to think in terms of years, not weeks or months.

As for honing your craft… It is not uncommon for a new writer to write 4 or 5 manuscripts before one is ready for publication. See the reality-check offered in Rachelle Gardner’s post: Will Your First Book be Published? 4 Reasons Why You Should Write Several Books Before Seeking Publication

I am currently in the midst of several stages: 4, 5, 6 and 7. And I’m on manuscript number 1.

At what stage are you in the process of writing for the purpose of publication?

Do you find these steps to be invigorating or intimidating?

Have I missed any steps?

How many manuscripts did you write/do you intend to write before seeking an agent?

Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for this layout! I haven’t gotten this far on my path to publication, so it’s nice to see where I’m heading (Lord-willing). And your point that this process is not easy otherwise everyone would be doing it (yes, even more people than are doing it now) is a good one.

    And thanks again for coming by my blog and following! I look forward to seeing you here and there often!


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