Getting your words down on paper is just the beginning of your journey. Here are some ways you can help bring your message to the masses.
First, find a local writer’s group. The more people who go over your manuscript, the better. Learn to take criticism gracefully. You’ve given birth and prepared your “baby” as best you can; its time for her to go to finishing school.
Now it’s time for college. Search the internet for freelance editors. Carefully consider reviews and contact their references. If an editor provides a client list, read their books. You should expect to sign a contract and pay a deposit. Legitimate editors do not ask for their entire fee up front. The editor you choose doesn't have to be local, but you need to trust them to prepare your “baby” for the big bad world.
Query local literary agents. An agent isn’t 100% essential, but if you can land one, you are that much more ahead. Think of it as trying to find your manuscript an employment agency. Does he need one to get a job? No, but it makes finding employment easier. Keep in mind literary agents receive hundreds of queries a day. They have very specific criteria for submissions, and not adhering to their rules will get your query the fast track to the recycle bin.
If you land an agent, then congratulations are in order. If not, never fear. You can get your book out there yourself. Once published, in whichever manner you choose, you need to get that work of art where your readers can find it. Contact local libraries and independent bookstores. You’ll have an easier time getting your book on the shelves, and smaller, local bookstores or libraries are more likely to let you host author events. Or, they may introduce you to book clubs they host. Not only could it increase your opportunity for sales, but more importantly, you get the opportunity to connect directly with your readers.
If you know a good library branch or independent bookstore, please share it in a comment. Check back soon for more on the different publishing routes available to aspiring authors.