Traditional vs Self Publishing: What do I need for traditional publishing?

Have you made up your mind yet as to which path you’ll choose for your book? The reason I ask is that if you decide to submit your book to a traditional publisher, you don’t need to write the whole book. So before you write “the end” it would be best to choose one path.

So let’s say you’re looking for a major publisher. You might want to look in books similar to yours to see who publishes them. You can also look online on Amazon and in the library in Literary Marketplace. Additionally Writers Digest lists publishers and their specialties/genres such as women’s fiction, memoir, spirituality, or young adult.

You’ll need to do some research on the publisher and see if they’ll accept queries or if you need to find a literary agent first. If you need to find an agent, then go back to your research, see which agents represent the books in your genre, and do some searching in the resources I mentioned as well as online.

For both fiction and nonfiction books, you’ll first submit a one-page query letter. Find out if the agent or publisher accepts e-queries. If not, use snail mail. E-queries tend to get much faster responses, so do as many of those as you can with the appropriate agents and publishers, that is, those who represent your genre. I’d highly suggest you have a professional writer/editor like me review your query letter before submitting it.

If the agent or publisher is interested, they’ll ask for a synopsis or the whole book for fiction and a book proposal for nonfiction. Writing a book proposal is like writing a mini-book. I’ve written several of them and I really enjoy it, because it encourages the author to take a global look at the book: overview, market, promotion, author bio, book outline, sample chapters.

Either have a professional write your proposal or at least have it edited. Remember, this is your first impression and you won’t have an opportunity to make a second. The agent or publisher wants to see your writing style and gauge the success factor of your book. Less than 1% of proposals get accepted, which is why so many authors are turning to self publishing.

We’ll look at the self publishing process more in depth next week.

Happy writing,

Andrea Susan Glass

PS. If you’d like to see a sample book proposal I’d be happy to send you one I wrote for a client. Just email me at


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