The Business of the Art of Writing
Being a writer is one thing. Making a living as a fiction author is another.
You’ve poured your days, nights and weekends into a creative project that innately carries some of you within it. It’s your voice. Your ideas. Your message. All of these things are very personal.
However, when it comes to the business of publishing your book, you need to move beyond the viewpoint of “author” and be able to holistically view the process for what it is. A business. A business that deals in products that will be bought and sold. Knowing about this business and being able to speak the language of agents, editors and publishers will get you much further than if you limit yourself solely to the artist role.
Do Your Research
Start at the bookstore! Whether at a local bookstore or one of the online retailers, like Amazon.com, do research on titles within your genre that are popular. Pay attention to details like price points, cover art and jacket copy.
Even better, pick up a copy of Publishing for Profit and learn exactly how the process works in the real world.
Doing your research will make it possible for you to talk about the publishing business intelligently. This means that when the time comes to answer questions about boilerplates and blurbs you'll be ready.
Practice Meeting Deadlines
In today's market, successful writers do not type up a single novel and live out the rest of their days fox hunting on their palatial estates. Successful writers never stop writing. The biggest part of becoming that prolific is being able to write even when you "don't feel like it." The best practice for that is to set some deadlines to hit, both long and short term. For example, "1000 words by noon" or "finish the next chapter by Thursday" could work. Maybe your goal is to finish NaNoWriMo this November. Start with something you are fairly certain you can do, then press yourself a bit more each day until your brain is trained to write under any circumstance. Even if you don't think it's your best writing, getting something on paper to edit later is a huge step forward.
Talk to People
Many agencies get up to 90% of the works they represent through referrals from an author they already represent. In a perfect world the best books would get published. In the real world, who you know definitely matters. If you are fortunate enough to know someone with a literary agent, reach out to them to see if they can help. If not, try attending a few writing events & conferences to start making those connections.
When you understand that publishing is a business, and know how it works, you will be much closer to your goal of being published!