4 Books to Help You Get Published

Cover of 4 Books to Help You Get Published

Here you are. After writing a book and editing it to the best of your ability, you want to launch it beyond the limits of your computer’s screen. Kudos to you. That’s no small feat. Take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve come. 

Now, pump up your confidence, concentration, and stamina before advancing because, whether it’s the big five, the indies or self-publishing you’re aiming for, the next step is not a walk in the park. The good news is that there is a bundle of books that can help you cross the gulf between writing something and getting it published. Keep scrolling.


Tips from a Publisher: A Guide to Writing, Editing, Submitting and Publishing Your Book by Scott Pack (2020)

I attended one of Scott’s workshops in London back in 2018, and what I remember the most is him saying within the first half-hour something along the lines of, “If you can’t take rejection, criticism and bad news, go home. It will save you time and heartbreak. Don’t waste your weekend here because there will always be rejection in the author’s path.” Initially taken aback, I decided to stay because I had never met anyone willing to tell me about the not-so-whimsical side of being a writer. But by the end of the second day spent in his class, I had learned to appreciate Scott’s twenty years of experience in the book industry packaged in tough love. His book, Tips from a Publisher, is an expanded version of his workshop, and I credit it with thickening my skin and helping me take some of the blows in the publication journey without giving up.

Who has read your book? I would urge you not to submit your book until it has been read by at least a small number of qualified people who have offered feedback. People who are not qualified to do this include relatives, loved ones, people you are sleeping with, people you want to sleep with, people you have slept with in the past, people you may want to sleep with in the future. These people, no matter how honest they are in real life, will generally not want to tell you your book is shit or point out your book’s flaws, for all sorts of reasons. Ideally you would find someone who knows a good book when they read one, is blunt and direct, has no agenda and would be prepared to spend the time reading your work and making a few notes.”


Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction and Get it Published by Susan Rabiner & Alfredo Fortunato (2003)

Although published in 2003, Thinking Like Your Editor is a 284-page deep vault filled with wisdom that is still relevant today. It will introduce you to parts of the publishing process that all aspiring authors need to understand, it will teach you to conceptualize your book so that its value is clear to editors, and it will prove to be particularly handy when drafting a proposal for a non-fiction book. The dedicated chapter on this topic is thirty-five pages long, and there’s also a sample proposal and a writing sample in the appendix. Overall, it offers a great blend of straight-talking advice, tricks of the trade and encouraging tales about those who succeed.

“Waste no sentences in the proposal. You want to leave the editor hungry to hear more about your fascinating topic, never that he’s heard more than he ever wanted to know about the subject and now wonders if he has time to put his head on his desk for a short nap (…). Good proposal writing remains more craft than art.”


Getting Published: How to Hook an Agent, Get a Deal and Build a Career You Love by Harry Bingham (2020)

This is a Jericho Writers Guide, so you can expect your tricky questions about all things publishing to be tackled. My favorite chapters are on how to get an agent and maintain that relationship. As someone who until recently was unagented (yep, that’s a word), I can confirm that “Part Two: Planet Agent”, with its guidance on how to select, approach, and communicate with agents, made all the difference. 

“Let’s say that your book is good and saleable, but not so obviously strong that every agent in town will be biting your hand off of it. It may well be that you need to reach ten to twelve agents before finding the one who’s right for you. Multiply ten agents by six weeks, and you have already spent more than a year in the search. Multiply a dozen agents by a dozen weeks, and you have spent almost three full years chasing round after representation. If you have the genes of Methuselah, are starting out young, and are taking plenty of chewable calcium, then perhaps you will manage to fit in a decent career before osteoporosis sets in. For the rest of us, however, I’d advise a more pressured approach.


Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer’s Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book By Courtney Maum (2020)

Courtney Maum is good at many things, but above all, she is good at building trust. This book makes you feel like that super smart and overachiever of a friend also happens to be generous enough to spill all the secrets of being an author onto the page. Then she publishes those pages and you can’t believe she wrote what she wrote the way she wrote because, really, it’s just what you needed. Yes, she maps the route to publishing, its many versions, obstacles, and pitfalls. But she doesn’t stop there. Instead, she delves into what happens after you get a publishing deal, which is an awful lot! Launch date, covers, blurbs, author photo, reviews, launch parties, sales, promo tour, mental health, physical health, etc. And she does so as an author, not as an editor, an agent or a publisher. That’s why, more than a book, this is a lifeline to anyone who wishes to go from writer to author. If that’s you, hold on to it; I promise you won’t regret it.

“Planning your book launch: try to keep it simple. For my first book launch, I decided to serve individual red-and-white checkered baskets of French fries because my book had to do with France, and it wasn’t until launch day that I realized French fries get kind of limp and gross-looking when they are not served fresh out of the fryer, which wasn’t possible because I’d ordered them from this anarchist throw-back hole in-the-wall fry shop in New York’s East Village that I wanted to support and the event was in Brooklyn, so my editor, my publicist and I had to spend the hour leading up to my book event trying to “refresh” the French fries (…).”

Wishing you the very best in your publishing path!


This concludes Nicole Louie’s writing and publishing book series. Be sure to check out “5 Books to Help You Edit Your Manuscript Draft” and “6 Books to Help You Survive the Writing Life” 

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