How to Get Your Book Published

William Keyser wrote his first book when he was just 19-year-old and 18 years later it was finally published.  Now, as author of the children's book "Once Upon a Night," he knows what it takes to make dreams come true.  William stopped by to share some of his tips for getting a manuscript published.

For more information about "Once Upon a Night," check out our books page.

  • Make sure you know that the publisher you submit to actually publishes the sort of material you are writing. And if they do, make sure you know that they accept unsolicited (someone submitting without an agent, in this case) manuscripts.
  • Make sure you know how to submit your manuscript. Make sure you know how to set it up so that it looks professional. And never, ever, ever, try to appear quirky or silly with a submission. I knew someone who once submitted a manuscript with glitter, because it was a fantasy novel he'd written. He was shooting for unique, but in reality, things like that only put you to the top of the rejection pile. Take it seriously, and don't think wackiness is going to impress anybody.
  • Proof read your work like crazy. Then, have someone else. It's one of the things that stops a potential editor in their tracks if they see numerous typos or poor grammar. Spellcheck is good, but good old fashioned eyeballs can be even better. Your manuscript is, in a certain way, like your resume. Who's going to hire you if you can't even take the time to make sure your work is relatively error free?
  • Know that it can take up to six months sometimes to get a reply back. That being the case, always try to have something else in the works, some other story, so that if it comes back rejected, you aren't going to be as hindered by the rejection. Keep working while you're waiting for your other work to find a home.
  • With children's books, never submit them with pictures. Huge mistake, and a clear indication of someone who hasn't done their homework. It's up to each individual editor to decide how the typeset is going to be, how the pages are going to be placed or combined together, so submitting finished art work is inappropriate. Also, editors tend to have illustrators in mind when they chose to publish a children's book.
  • Read constantly. Not just what you write, but other genres as well. Expand your horizons so that you stay sharp.
  • Write and keep writing. The more you do anything you already do well, the better you're going to get.
  • Here's the one I always stress, the one that to me is sort of the biggest one of all ---PERSEVERE. Publishing houses receive thousands of manuscripts each and every week. When you submit without an agent, your work tends to end up in what's called the "slush pile", where all those manuscripts go that haven't been asked for. They get read, but it's a lowly job at a publishing house, but if the work is strong and it fits the publishers needs, they'll take it. Harry Potter, I believe, was submitted in just such a way. The truth is, there are millions of people in this country who might have just as much talent and brains as you, so the one thing that may end up separating you from those people is your tenacity. Your ability to stick it out. That's why I found it was helpful to not think of being an author as some nebulous, dream like fantasy. I thought of it as a job. Yes, it's creative and it's amazing in that aspect, but don't make it seem like it's something unreal, because then it always will be. Bring it down to a normal level and think of it as getting any other job. Decide for yourself that rejection is just a phase, and then decide to outlast it.


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