So you’ve finally finished that book you’ve been sweating over the past year and want to get it out to the world. How do you do get it published in Ireland? What’s the best path? Is there a path?
First to say that the following advice is meant specifically for poets and short story writers. If you’re looking to get a novel or a nonfiction book published, go to www.irishwriterscentre.ie, www.writing.ie or www.wordsireland.ie and check out their resources section. Now back to the path…
The first step is all about the manuscript and how it needs to be the best it can be and no, I’m not just talking about running a spell check (but that’s important too). The most common mistake we see is writers sending out their manuscript when it’s in first-draft stage. Don’t do it! Take time, edit and then edit again. And again. And then, once you get to the point when you are sick to death of it, get feedback. And no, not from your mother. There are exceptions—such as if your mother happens to be Edna O’Brien—but for the most part your feedback should be from people you’re not related to or are in a romantic relationship with. So who then? Other writers, either in a writers’ group or in a writing workshop (www.irishwriterscentre.ie). Then revise again and another time still until you are sure your manuscript is as good as it can be.
That’s the first step. But there are other steps. Side steps. Steps that veer away from the path, but steps that need to be taken…
The Writer Profile Step
The first thing a publisher usually does before looking at the manuscript is look at who you are. If we’ve never heard of you that’s not a great start. But if we haven’t heard of you, then we’ll do some checking. We’ll check to see if you have a website. And if you’re on social media. Your publication history—which literary journals have published you and what awards have you won or been shortlisted in? If the answer is none, then you need to do some work. So, yes, that is the first step. Establish a profile. Send out poems or short stories to literary journals and build up a publication history. Submit to competitions. And get yourself on social media. (We all hate it; that’s no excuse!)
What else? If you’re a poet, apply for Poetry Ireland’s introduction series. Take courses at the Irish Writers’ Centre. Attend readings and literary events and launches. Make friends with other writers. Put yourself out there.
This will take time. So start now.
Finding the Right Publisher
So now that your manuscript is in tip-top shape and you’ve created a sizable publication history and have loads of friends on Facebook and Twitter, it’s time to find a publisher. Do the work. Research. Find out which publishers are publishing the type of work you write. Create a wish list and be prepared for rejection.
The Dreaded Query Letter
There is loads of advice out there on writing the perfect query letter, so I’m only going to give three pieces of advice:
- Personalise your letter to the publisher.
- Be specific in your letter, especially when talking about your publication history (the worst is when people say that they’ve been published in numerous journals, but then don’t list any).
- Remember that publishers get loads of queries every day, so yours should be as good as possible.