Will My Book Get Published?

Q: I have the first five chapters of a novel written, and I think they’re reasonably good. It would be nice, however, to know if I even have a chance at getting the book published once it’s completed. Is there anyplace I can submit what I’ve written to have it looked over, or should I go ahead and find an agent?—Anonymous

A: Hold off on looking for an agent just yet. Many people begin writing a manuscript and, after they’re a few chapters into it, get excited about what they’ve written so far and feel overjoyed about the healthy direction of the plot. But the challenge of writing a manuscript doesn’t fall in the first 10,000 words, where ideas are easier to find than a Starbucks. The challenge resides in the middle and end of the book. That’s the tough part. That’s where you prove you haven’t lost focus or the excitement you developed in the first five chapters. Dedication is what can separate you from the rest, so finish the manuscript and prove you have something of quality. Then an agent is more likely to listen.

If you want expert advice on the prose you’ve already compiled, you can find critique services on the Internet and listed in the classified ads of your favorite writing resources (I’m sure that plug will garner some “thank yous” from our ad folks). But carefully research the services and people you’re considering—check credentials and references to make sure they’re legitimate. And make sure you know what you’re getting for your money. You don’t want to have unrealistic expectations, but you also don’t you want to set the bar too low. The more information you have going in, the more likely you are to be satisfied with the results.

Also, if you’re looking for some immediate feedback, you can hop over to the Writer’s Digest Forum and post under the Critique Central section (you can view the Critique Guidelines here). You must be a registered member to post (registration is free).

Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Have a question for me? Feel free to post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at WritersDig@fwpubs.com with “Q&Q” in the subject line. Come back each Friday as I try to give you more insight into the writing life.

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4 thoughts on “Will My Book Get Published?

  1. Linda

    Check out self publishing by all means. Writer’s Digest has good information about self-publishing. Just don’t go into self-publishing thinking it’s going to be easy.

    There’s nothing easy about being a writer trying to get published.

    Keep writing.

  2. Steve Davis

    Can you give me your comments on "publish on demand" such as iUniverse, LuLu or Trafford. I am investigating this avenue as a good way for a new writer to break into publishing. To me it looks like an ideal way to have a book published without laying out big bucks and still have good exposure.


  3. writer, rejected

    When ready, be prepared to go a hundred miles of rough terrain. It’s difficult and you must be persistent and creative. Exhaust all resources from NY agents to big-time publishing houses to small-time presses to self-publishing. Become your own expert. And know that it’s still a bear. Check out my Literary Rejections on Display for a humorous look at the topic. http://www.literaryrejectionsondisplay.blogspot.com And just know, there are writers out there pulling for you.

  4. Linda

    There is one source where you can pick up some free advice (probably more than one). It is a forum for writers that critique other writers.

    It’s free to join. The catch is you have to review other works to get ‘credits’ to read reviews on your mss.

    The site is urbis.com.

    The writers seem to be fairly honest and sometimes they’re brutally honest. But, you take every criticism and see if it needs to part of your story.

    I put my first four chapters on the site, and took their advice or not. The book is better, and I’ve finished four chapters in about a month since they gave me the courage to move on.


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