Michael Hyatt is Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the largest christian publishing company in the world. His vast knowlege of the publishing industry is renown.
So as an author, what do you do? Here’s what I recommend:
1.Educate yourself. If you want to publish with a general market publisher, read 2010 Writer’s Market by Robert Brewer. If you want to write for the Christian Market, read Christian Writers’ Market Guide 2010 by Sally Stuart. Both books include writer’s guidelines and submission procedures for publishing houses. These books will give you a good overview of the literary marketplace.
2.Read blogs written by agents. You can get some incredibly helpful advice and straight-talk from people who pitch proposals for a living. I recommend three: Terry Whalin, Chip MacGregor, and Rachelle Gardner. There are other blogs, but I have found these to be the most useful.
3. Write a killer book proposal. If you want to write (or have written) a non-fiction book, I recommend my article, Writing a winning Book Proposal (this is a PDF file). It will tell you exactly what publishers want in a proposal.You can modify my format or search for another. (Just Google “fiction book proposal” and you will come up with several great resources.)
4.Have someone review your proposal. If you have a friend who teaches English or is a professional editor, ask them to review your proposal. You might even barter something with them. In addition, the Editorial Services section of Literary Market Place, 2010, lists over 500 entries, many of which provide some kind of critique service. (This is a very expensive book, so you may want to try and find it in your local library.)
5.Find a literary agent to represent you. This is usually the only way to get in the door with a publishing company. Most publishers do not accept unsolicited proposals or manuscripts. Instead, publishers let the literary agents do the filtering. If you want a list of general market agents, you can buy 2010 Guide to Literary Agents or get it from your local library. I have also compiled a list of agents who represent Christian authors. This is the only list of Christian agents I have been able to find.
6.Consider submitting your proposal to Christian Manuscript Submissions. This is a site sponsored by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA), an industry trade organization. It provides an opportunity to get your work in front of Christian publishers who use the site to discover new authors. I don’t know of a similar service for the general market.