Timeless Guidance – Erin’s Advice on Getting Published

Many of you have been coming to the blah-g lately saying, “Lisi, you always give the best advice…” and when I read that, I can’t help but to dole out more. But when I read TacoChic’s comment that guy advice seems to be my thing, I knew it was time to switch those things up. And in an effort to be more than one note, I’m going for Janine’s question today on how to get your first book published. Here’s her question:

Hey Lisi,

Your books are truly amazing!
I want to become a writer myself and as clichéd that probably sounds I dream of being one since I was little. I used to write short stories – well actually they were planned to turn into books but I never finished them :D – but recently I participated in a contest NaNoWriMo where I completed a novel with over 50000 books. I am currently planning to publish it as an ebook on Amazon but it would be a dream coming true if it would get like really published.
I was hoping that you would have some tips? As in how did you manage to get your first book published and all.
That would really be amazing!
Thanks and lots of love,  Janine

Hi Janine. A few things first: One, thank you for the nice compliment. And congratulations on participating in NaNoWriMo, but more importantly, on completing your first novel! That’s huge for any writer and you should be very proud. It’s also more than I can say for myself since I majorly failed the 50,000 page November challenge last year. But this post isn’t about me, or my failures. It’s about you and all other young writers reading this who are wondering how to get their book published so you can add that to your list of successes.

I’ve said before that those who can’t do should turn to those who canSo in racking my brain on ways to best advise how an aspiring writer should go about getting noticed by a publisher I remembered my brilliant editor, Erin, who answered this very question on my blah-g a while back.

Here’s a refresher shot of partial Team LH from our brunch meeting a couple of weeks ago in Santa Monica. We ate delicious food, sipped on tea and virgin Bloody Mary’s, and worked on plotting book 3 of Pretenders. Erin is the fair-faced beauty in the top left corner, and down in the bottom left is Office Elf extraordinaire, Alisha! As you can see, Team LH was very excited to be meeting in the warm light of day instead of the cold glow of our computer screens and usual cc’d thread of emails.

Team LH at our brunch meeting in Santa Monica!

But back to the question at hand.

My excitement continues because Erin put some serious thought into her advice on how to get published and when I rediscovered it today, I knew it would give you all the direction you need. If you follow her wise words, I will be reading your books someday.

Now over to Erin’s timeless guidance:

Hi readers,

Lisi asked me to answer a few questions for you. I know a lot of you are aspiring authors and that is fantastic! Keep writing! As with any artistic calling, it can be hard to break out and get your work noticed. For large publishing houses, the standard policy is to only accept manuscripts that are submitted through an agent. This is largely just a matter of volume—editors couldn’t possibly answer every single query if it was an open-door policy and most publishers do respond to every submission they get. So here are some ideas on making your way in the publishing world…

1) It is easiest to get your manuscript seen by a publisher if you have an agent. An agent truly is a great advocate for an author. So do consider trying to get representation for yourself.

2) Editors keep their eyes peeled for talent out in the world. Try other forms of writing—try your hand at journalism by writing for websites, magazines or newspapers and build up a clip file of published work. Write a blog on a topic that interests you and try to drum up a following. Or self publish through a variety of different platforms and try to garner an initial readership for your book that way. (These kinds of projects are all great experiences that you can use to pitch yourself to an agent as well.)

3) Consider paying a small fee to a freelance editor to review your manuscript and help you revise. There are a lot of great people out there who can help you take your writing to the next level.

4) Attend writing workshops or attend a full writing program. It will help you polish your work and meet other authors.
As with any career, the best thing you can do is network! Take classes, talk to local professors or authors, attend seminars, join a writers association—there are trade organizations for all aspects of the publishing industry. Apply for an internship at a publisher, or an agency, or to assist an author. The more people you meet, the more people you are connected to through their connections. The more people you know, the more you can talk about your projects and get advice. If you network your way to an editor, sometimes you can get someone to look at your work without an agent.
Basically, you need to do everything you can to put yourself out there and make connections. You also need to make sure you are putting your best work out there. Really take your time to develop your writing, and if you can’t get anyone to notice the first book you write, write another! A writer’s work is never done (as Lisi can tell you!). Keep creating… and good luck!


Did offering up Erin’s advice and passing it off as a new blah-g post cure my current one note status? Probably not. Come back in two weeks when I make another go of it, and don’t forget to keep starting your questions off with the magic words.



Ps. Office Elf will be guest posting over on her blog next week while I’m in Mexico!


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  • Philip Hoffman says:

    This is awesome, and timely! Just attended the NaNoWriMo webinar tonight. If you see this post, I wanted to ask you one question on this topic: How did you find Erin? Finding an editor is the next big step for me and I want to find someone that is both good and someone I can trust. Authors always talk about their editors, but how do they get them??

    • Hi Philip,
      Thanks for joining the webinar! To answer your question: Find out who publishes books in your genre. Look up their editors. Pick one that has a similar sensibility to you. You can usually tell by the type of books they edit. Then send them a query letter with your manuscript. Make sure you tell them why you chose them. They love to feel like you follow their career. Good luck!

      • Philip Hoffman says:

        Thank you, this is super helpful – and also not that complicated. I can do that. 🙂

        PS – I’ve also added Pretenders to my list of books to read. I’m intrigued…

      • Thank you! You might find you enjoy it, despite its target age range. 🙂

  • Kathy says:

    Have fun in Mexico Lisi!!

  • Laila N says:

    I remember this! Have fun in Mexico 🙂

  • I loved this! This was very helpful and inspiring 🙂

    xo Amanda

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