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How to Become a Published Writer

Two Methods:Writing HelpSample Letters to Publishers

You become a writer the moment you write something. But to become a published writer takes more than putting words on a page; it takes discipline, knowledge and a willingness to learn and work, as well as some luck. While you can't control the luck, here are some steps you can take to become a published writer.

Writing Help

Sample Writing Exercises

Sample Grammar Exercises

Sample Letters to Publishers

Sample Letter to Publisher

Sample Letter Asking for Writing Guidelines

Sample Letter About Revised Manuscript


  1. Read frequently. The best thing you can do to improve your own writing is to read the writing of others. Focus on successful novels to try to glean tips and tidbits from the author’s writing style. What is it about the book you’re reading that makes it so deliciously interesting? What type of plot and characters intrigue you the most? What writing style does the general audience tend to gravitate towards?
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    • Focus on reading books inside your genre of interest to look for similarities and differences of different writing processes and products. What styles are worth mimicking, and which do you want to stay away from?
    • Before you write your own book, it is important to make sure that you aren’t writing a story incredibly similar to one(s) already on the market. The best way to do this is to read as many books as you possibly can.
  2. Learn the art of writing. Major publishers are increasingly less willing to accept manuscripts with glaring grammatical errors, less-than-believable characters or poorly developed plots that get in the way of a potentially good story. To make sure you don’t fall into any of these categories with your writing, take time to study the writing basics.
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    • Study good books on writing, including style guides on grammar and usage and instructional texts on plot and characterization.
    • Take classes in the forms of writing that interest you and in the areas in which you need to improve your skills.
    • Join a writing critique group, where other writers provide feedback on what you've written, and you do the same for them.
  3. Practice your craft. Write regularly and often; the more you write, the better you will become. Although it is most helpful to actively work on the book or essay that you are hoping to get published, taking time in your day to write about anything will be beneficial. Keep a journal to write things in while you stand in line running errands or sitting on the bus.
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    • If you have Internet access and a computer, one way to practice your writing is to start a blog. Not only does it give you practice, but it also gives you immediate exposure, critiques in the form of comments – and depending on the content of your blog, it may also provide you with material you can include in a book.
    • Much of writing includes rewriting, incorporating the critiques you get to make your writing better, as well as revisiting and improving your work as your skills improve. If you write on a daily basis, you will get better at doing these things with your own work.
  4. Network with other writers. Meeting published writers as well as fellow aspiring writers will provide you with support, encouragement and advice. Fellow writers may also introduce you to editors, publishers and agents and acquaint you with other helpful resources.
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    • Join an organization of writers in your field. Science fiction writers can join the Science Fiction Writers of America, writers of children's books can join the Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators, and other genres have their own groups. Research these genre groups and see if joining is the right decision for you.
    • Attend writers' conferences and retreats. Some are put on by writers' organizations and may feature lectures and networking sessions, as well as periods devoted to writing and critiquing. Other conventions are put on by fans of a particular genre, such as science fiction or mysteries, and feature some of the same things, as well as fun activities.
    • Try contacting a favorite author. Assuming they aren’t incredibly famous (like Stephen King or JK Rowling), you may make contact with an expert in your field full of good advice. If you become close acquaintances with the author, you may possibly get personalized editing on your work too.[1]

Preparing to Publish Your Work

  1. Proofread your manuscript. Although you could have sworn you didn’t make any spelling or grammatical errors in your first draft, it is almost guaranteed that doing a quick run through your manuscript will reveal a few basic errors. No matter how small the mistake, it is imperative that you correct all errors. To avoid embarrassment and a possible turn-down, proofread your manuscript heavily before sending it to be edited by someone else or to a publisher.
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    • Wait at least three days before editing something you have just written. Studies show that in the three-day time period, your mind will glaze over mistakes you made by auto-correcting them as you read.
    • Try reading your work aloud. You will be forced to pay attention to every single word rather than unconsciously skipping over seemingly obvious words or mentally filling in blanks. Although it may seem silly, reading your manuscript out loud to yourself could significantly improve it.
    • Check for any mistakes in formatting, spelling, grammar, punctuation, and plot details. Try to perfect your story as best you can before getting help from someone else.
  2. Get your manuscript edited. There are several options for having your manuscript edited. Although the most reliable and highly esteemed option is to hire a professional editor or copywriter, doing so can take a major toll on your bank account. You can also consider looking into having a well-read friend or family member edit your manuscript, or possibly a college professor or some other writer with published journal articles.
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    • Search local editors in your area to see what prices look like. You may be able to hire someone who is just starting out and pay them a low fee for the job, or exchange editing work for a manuscript of theirs.
    • Be sure that you are not being taken advantage of with a scam editing offer. Hire professionals or someone you trust to do the editing for you.
    • Have multiple editors work on your manuscript (assuming they aren’t all being paid). This way, you can look for consistent edits that are made on your writing style or story line and take this into account.
    • Take all edits with a grain of salt. It is important to always make changes to correct grammar and spelling, but remember to consider edits to your story or characters. Although they can be very helpful, it is your story and in the end you control the way it is written.[2]
  3. Choose a publishing market. With a completed manuscript that has been wholly edited, it is time to find publishers to send it to. Before you can do that though, you must first select the publishing market that best suits your work. For example, visit the Horror Writers of America or the Romance Writers of America websites to see affiliated publishing agents.
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    • It is important to choose the best publishing market for your genre, so that you don’t accidentally send a murder mystery to a religious publishing house.
    • Publishing market websites will list resources and publishing agents you can contact in regards to your manuscript.
  4. Write a cover letter for publishers. In order to introduce yourself and your work to possible publishers, you will need to write a cover letter. This is a 1-2 page letter that includes a brief autobiography, a list of previous works you have published (if you have any), and a short synopsis of your work.
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    • Make sure that your cover letter reflects the tone of your manuscript. If you are writing about a serious topic, don’t use humor when writing your cover letter.
    • As with your original manuscript, proofreading is a must. Make sure that your cover letter is completely free of any and all spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. Have a friend read it over to make sure it is 100% accurate before sending it off.
    • See if there are any special submission items that the publisher wishes to receive with or in your cover letter. Visit their website for specific query information.

Publishing Your Work

  1. Hire an agent. This is the person who will help to build your reputation and give you an in in the publishing world. Often, many publishing houses won’t receive manuscripts from authors without an agent. Look into agents who work for authors in your genre or who work in your area. Obviously hiring the most successful agents will give you the best chance of getting published, but this costs much more money than hiring less successful agents.
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    • Talk to prospective agents about their rates and what their role and responsibility will be in the publishing process. Make sure that you are entire clear on their job before hiring them so that you don’t lose money or miss out on a good opportunity.
    • Look into several agents rather than just settling on one. Agents are just as picky as publishing houses, and won’t accept a manuscript offer from just any author.
  2. Send in your manuscript. If you finally receive that acceptance letter from an agent or publishing house, send a complete copy of your manuscript. Some may only require the first 50 pages of your book, so be sure that you are clear on what you are to send. Make sure to include any other information they may require along with your manuscript.
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  3. Wait. Possibly the most stressful part of the publishing process is waiting for a response about your manuscript. You may be forced to wait patiently for a few weeks or months, so don’t expect an immediate response. Don’t pester the publishing house or your agent with emails about the process unless it is taking an exceedingly long amount of time.
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  4. Accept your response. After all your time waiting, you will eventually receive a response about your manuscript. If you are accepted and they want to publish your book, look into the financial side, getting a copyright for your story, and rights you retain as the publisher. If you are turned down, don’t take it personally. Books are refused for publishing on a regular basis for a wide variety of reasons other than poor plot; your publisher may already be publishing a similar book, isn’t into your style, or wants you to change some aspects of it.
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    • If you are turned down for your book, wait a few months before sending it back to the same publishing house. You are welcome to send it to multiple other publishing houses without waiting, however.
    • If you decide that getting your book professional published isn’t a viable option, look into self publishing your book. Although this certainly creates a lot more work for you, it offers an alternative to getting your book published and on shelves quickly.
  5. Get paid to write more. If you want to continue writing but don’t have the funds, look into grants for writers. This is money awarded to hopeful writers as they continue working on their current or a future manuscript. You can also consider entering your work in writing contests to win small sums and get your work known.[3]
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Categories: Writing