Taking Your Book To Market

Q: How can I get published? I’m starting the last chapter of my novel, which I have been writing for several years. I didn’t have publishing in mind when I started writing, but now I want to make my book a reality. What steps do I take from here?
— V. Matthews, Chicago

A: Your first step is to find an agent. Pick up a copy of the 2006 Guide to Literary Agents (Writer’s Digest Books; $24.99), or check your local library.

Also, contact the Writer’s Guild of America (www.wgaeast.org or www.wgawest.org) and the Association of Authors’ Representatives Inc. (http://www.aar-online.org/mc/page. do), a nonprofit organization of independent literary and dramatic agents.

In a brief cover letter, highlight anything that will make you stand out. For example, if you’ve written a murder mystery and you’ve worked as a police officer, your work experience might have helped bring greater realism to your writing.

Include a one-page summary of your story, and enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope. Give agents two months to respond, then follow up with a note in the mail or with an e-mail. Repeat this process with each name on your list, and persevere until you secure an agent.

If you’re considering self-publishing, read The Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print, and Sell Your Own Book, 14th Edition by Dan Poynter (Para Publishing; $19.95). For more information, log on to www.writerswrite.com. Good luck!