Getting Your Book Published

The step-by-step overview of how a book gets published

Close up of open book on counter
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Authors might think they do the heavy lifting by writing the book, but publishing a book is just as labor-intensive endeavor — for all involved. Here's an overview of publishing — from proposal through the publication.

Write the novel or the book proposal

For fiction, authors produce a completed manuscript. For non-fiction, authors craft a book proposal, a sales document that outlines the author's vision for the finished book 

• Read about the elements of an effective book proposal.

Get a literary agent

If you want your book to be published by a traditional publishing house, it is much, much harder to get an editor to look at your book proposal or manuscript if you don't have an agent.

• Read about what a literary agent does for your book.

• Read the steps to getting a literary agent.

Sign the book contract

A book contract is a legally-binding agreement between an author and his or her book publisher. From the physical book to the financial agreement, the book contract outlines the obligations and the rights of each party in the agreement.

• Read about the book contract and what it covers.

Know that many hands will now be touching your book

Wondering how a book gets from writer to reader? If you're an author being published by one of the major book publishers, then you’ll be happy to know there is a whole team of people involved in helping to "set up" your book for publication —

• Read about an overview of the book publishing process.

• Read about the major departments in a book publishing house.

Familiarize yourself with the editorial department

The content of published books — from acquisition to final printed pages — is the responsibility of the editorial department.

• Read about the typical roles of the editorial department.

Work on your manuscript through the editorial process

The editorial process is the first stage in seeing a manuscript become a finished book. The editor helps shape the content and as he or she and the author work together to arrive at an agreed-upon final manuscript.

• Read step-by-step how an author works with an editor to arrive at a final manuscript.

See your manuscript through the production process

The book production department is responsible for the design, layout, printing, and e-book coding of the finished book or both. The book production process officially starts when the "final" manuscript goes to the copyeditor, who job falls under the production department.

• Read about the book design process

• Read how a manuscript goes from copyediting to finished book.

Know that a team of people is working your book's packaging...

Sometimes even consulting you! Chances are, you'll be working with your editor to fine-tune the title that you started with to maximize reader appeal. Also, in a traditional publishing house, the book jacket design process happens in tandem with much of the editorial and production processes of the book and starts months—even a year or more—in advance of publication.

• Read about how to write a selling book title.

• Read about how a book jacket is designed and decided upon.

And know that the marketing, publicity, and sales departments are strategizing...

...about how to get your book in bookstores (like, Barnes & Noble, and independent booksellers) and in front of the media and the consumer.

• Read about the book sales departments and the accounts they cover.

• Read about the book publisher's publicity efforts.

• Read about the functions of a book publisher's marketing department.

Enjoy seeing the finished book!

The copies land in the bookstores and in your hands. But if you think you're done, you're wrong — now the marketing and publicity outreach plans kick into high gear!