How Does a Book Get Published?

Until a few years ago, I never really thought about how a book goes from someone’s head to a bookstore. I’ve always loved books and bookstores. A lot. In fact, if there were “frequent reader miles” like airlines have “frequent flyer miles,” I would never have to buy a book again. But the journey those books take? Never really cared.

Until it was my book making that journey. Suddenly, I wanted to know everything.

What I learned was that the author is just one-third of the equation. Once you have a book written, you need a publisher. And to get a publisher, you need an agent. Unless you self-publish. But that takes a lot of work. And a lot of money. And a lot of business savvy. I am 0 for 3 there, so I knew I’d need to go the traditional route.

So the first thing I did was send “queries” out to agents. There are several websites that have templates for query letters and proposals. I used those and put together a “snapshot” of my book. That snapshot went out to several agents. One was interested. But that one was – and is – fantastic. I am so grateful DC Jacobson and Associates took a chance on me! The process of finding and signing with an agent took about six months.

My agent (and some friends) helped me put together a very professional proposal that would go out to several publishers. One was interested. That one is amazing…

The team at Thomas Nelson took my book and went to work. The editorial team read it, re-read it and gave me lots of suggestions for how I could make it better. Then they read and re-read it again to catch errors. Then the marketing team went to work. They created that fabulous cover, and they created a “brand” for me as a writer. They put the book on different websites and gave me tips for setting this website up. Then they got it out to lots of people to read and preview and see. Finally, the sales team took all that the editorial and marketing team did with the book and they hit the streets, pitching the books to booksellers across the country, and doing so  much more than I will probably ever know. It took over a year from the time I signed with Thomas Nelson until the book was published.

I was just up at the Thomas Nelson headquarters yesterday, discussing ideas for a new series (more on that later :)), and I was reminded just how incredible this team is and how very blessed I am to be able to work with them.

Becoming a published writer is a long journey. But it is exciting. If this is something you’re interested in, the best advice I can give is to PRAY. Pray for the right story, the right agent, the right publisher, and the right timing.

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