The Novel Publishing Process


By Jeanne Lyet Gassman

In my experience (others may disagree), fiction is much harder to market than non-fiction. If you're planning to try to market your novel, you need to do at least one or more serious edits on the piece before you even begin the query letter process to find an agent or a publisher.  

This is the general way the process of publishing a novel works today:  

1. You complete a first draft.  

2. You rewrite the darn thing anywhere two to twenty times, depending on your skill and mastery of the form. At some point during this step, you should also seek feedback from other writers with more experience who can spot structural problems, plot issues, pacing problems, etc. You don't necessarily need to hire a book doctor per se. A lot of times you can get this kind of help from a writing class, workshop, or good critique group. 

3. When you have the entire ms. as polished as you can make it, you draft a query letter to send to agents and publishers. You also begin to do some research on finding the right agent or publisher. This query letter is your primary marketing tool. It must sell you and your book.  

4. Wait.  

5. While you wait for responses, you whip your synopsis into shape.  

6. If you get a positive response from an agent or publisher, you will usually be asked to send a partial with a synopsis. Most places want the first three chapters or the first fifty pages.  

7. The agent or editor loves your sample chapters and asks to see a full manuscript. Send it out and...  

8. Wait.  

9. Celebration! Well, almost-- If you've been accepted by an agent, you've just started marketing your book. If you've been accepted by a publisher, you're now caught up in the process of contract negotiations, rewrites, and marketing plans. An agent can be the buffer for all of these and help you get a better contract most of the time.) 

10. Book hits the stores. Now you can celebrate!  

I'm not trying to discourage you, but I did want you to understand how important it is to have your novel letter perfect before you approach an agent or publisher. That single effort can save you lots of time and frustration.  

Now go rescue that novel from your documents folder. It's calling to you! J


About the Author

Jeanne Lyet Gassman is an award-winning author and instructor whose fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry have been published in magazines, newspapers, and anthologies.

In 2002, she was the recipient of an Encourage-ment Award in Creative Writing from the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

In addition to her writing, Jeanne teaches writing classes and workshops in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Recent class offerings include: Beginning Fiction, The Secrets of Getting Published, Critiquing and Editing Your Writing, and Writing Your Personal Memoir.





Sonoran Mirage Anthology

Sonoran Mirage

with contributing author

Jeanne Lyet Gassman




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