As of right now, this list is geared more towards writers/authors who are looking to go the traditional route of publishing: they want an agent or a publisher. I’ll add a self-published version soon!
You start writing your novel. You may hit a few walls, but you’re determined you’re going to beat the book into submission, so you knock those walls down and keep going!
You finish your novel. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You did it! Great job!
You edit your novel (at least once or twice), and if you’re anything like me, probably throw a few fits along the way. Congratulations, you’re a real writer!
You send it off to your beta readers (yes, plural!) and anxiously await their thoughts and opinions! Because if they’re good, they’ll have them. Lots.
Your betas sent it back! …and it has lots of proverbial red ink. Contrary to what it may feel like, that is not blood shed. I promise. Maybe.
You edit your book some more, cursing and yelling at it, and wondering how/why a character with no hair keeps running his fingers through it…
You let it sit for a few weeks and work on something else. By the time you come back to it, you hopefully no longer want to stab it. Repeatedly.
You’ve edited it, had it beta’d, and re-edited it. Now you can either send it off to more betas, or maybe you feel you’re ready for the next stage.
You start your query and synopsis writing! YAY–err, BOO!
You struggled for a few days, or weeks, writing the perfect synopsis, query, and making sure your first 3 chapters shine like diamonds!
You make a list of agents or publishers you want to query. You address them personally, read their submission guidelines repeatedly, and don’t send them paranormal when they only take contemporary.
You suddenly find yourself with a case of Refreshitis! Don’t worry. It’s not deadly. And it only lasts for a few, er, six or so months.
You have some free time now. So what do you do? Yes, that’s right! You start over! Woohoo!
Okay. I know I wrote it like it’s funny, but most of these steps are things that serious writers/authors do. They write the best book they can, edit it before anyone else sees it, send it off to other readers for opinions, and edit it some more–and this is before they ever get to the I’m-ready-to-publish stage. Writing a book, trying to make a serious career out of writing, takes a lot of time, dedication, and research.
If you want an agent, research them. If you can, talk to authors they represent. Take a good, hard look at their Submission Guidelines. Don’t read them once and then send off a query six months later, hoping their requirements are the same. Things change. So make sure one of the last things you do before you send a query to an agent is check their Submission Guidelines again.
Same thing with publishers. Most people go through an agent because most traditional publishers require one. But if you find one who doesn’t, then do your research. If you’re interested in publishing with them, it’s a good idea to read some of the books they publish! And again–check their Submission Guidelines (sometimes they’re hard to find).
In short, do your research! On everything. Most jobs come with some form of training, but publishing isn’t really one those jobs. You really need a good grasp on what you’re doing before you do it, otherwise you’re only going to hurt your chances of getting published.