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Kim Tomsic

Monday, July 1, 2013

Landing the Elusive Publishing Contract

Getting to Yes!

By Kim Tomsic
Do you have a goal to publish a book through a traditional publishing house rather than self-publishing? If yes, here is my OVERLY simplified flowchart for getting from point A to Z. Enjoy!

1. Write an incredible story!

Check out these RESOURCES to help you write that book:


Check your beats, plotting, and pacing by reading SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder
Follow Deborah Halverson on the blog:

Join the SCBWI, take a webinar, attend a conference, network and learn the business side of publishing, too.

2. Ask your critiquing group for input 

If you are not part of a critiquing group, JOIN ONE! It will fast-track you to better writing. I promise!

3. Edit

More resources:  SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS by Renni Browne and Dave King

Consider hiring a reputable professional editor or editing service such as: 

Deborah Halverson,  DEAR EDITOR
Harold Underdown at https://www.underdown.org/
Emma Dryden at Dryden Books

4. Repeat 
Repeat steps two and three over and over and over again until your story is polished, your characters are compelling, your plot is paced perfectly, your ending is unexpected yet inevitable, and you are ready to submit!

5. Learn the business!

Learn the business side of publishing, including how to write a compelling query letter, logline, jacket flap, and synopsis. Learn about word count and how to talk about genres. Figure out where your manuscript fits.

Receive input from your critiquing group

Edit. Edit. Edit.

6. Ask beta readers to give you input on your manuscript

Edit. Edit. Edit.

7. Research Agents:
Most publishing houses only accept manuscript submissions through agents, so step seven is to RESEARCH agents. This is a lengthy process, but worth the effort. Research by reading their clients' books, reading interviews with the agent, and even reading the agents' social media posts. You'll know an agent is a good fit after you've thoroughly researched, because you'll be able to determined that they not only represent the  type of books you write, but you'll also come closer to knowing if they are someone with whom you'd want to have a long-term professional relationship.

8. Query your top five agents

By now, you should have been learning about the publishing business. 

Here's a brief article on how to write a query letterLINK

If your query is not receiving any kind of traction or personal responses, either your query letter needs work, or your querying the wrong type of agents, or your manuscript still needs some work. Take your query letter to your critiquing group and to beta readers. Repeat some edit steps before you move on.

Query five more agents (whom you have researched and matched as before)

9.  Hooray!! You've landed an agent!!!


10.  Work with your agent to get your manuscript submission ready! Agent is probably an editorial agent (in this market, most good ones are). Therefore work with your agent to Edit. Edit. Edit. Polish, Polish, Polish.

11.  Agent will take your query paragraph, logline, jacketflap work, and synopsis to compose a “for sale” letter to an editor at a publishing house. Why do most publishing houses have an agent-only submission policy…because the editor knows that all the above steps were taken, the project is polished, and an agent probably submitted based on an editor’s personal taste (i.e. maybe your agent knows an editor who is specifically looking for a dystopian mystery with a paranormal twist and a Jane Eyre-ish main character)

Big moment!!! Editor loves your project…what’s next?

12.  Editor writes a memo in preparation for next acquisitions meeting (and you better believe it will be an easy memo to write if your agent wrote a compelling "for sale" letter based on the amazing query/synopsis/jacket flap and logline you wrote). 

Editor presents project to acquisitions committee for a vote

If vote goes well, editor writes an editorial memo to the Sales/Marketing/Design team and puts a Profits and Loss statement together on how they project will play out. Editorial memo will include author bio, selling points of manuscript, similar titles in the market, P&L statement, the manuscript, synopsis.

Editor makes pitch

The Sales/Marketing/Design team vote. Maybe other votes take place.

Congratulations…you’ve got a Yes!!!

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