The second draft of the book is when you start thinking about what you are really writing. The first draft is you collecting all the windfall, making notes, jotting down stories and such.
Wait, I might have just skipped ahead.
As a writer seeking to be published some day, you want to know at which point in your journey you intend to worry about publishing. Many of us prefer the traditional way of a book contract with a suitable publishing house, and some are elated to self publish it. That said, for both, what you absolutely need to be sure of is the genre of the book. That is where the second draft comes in.
1. Decide the genre of the book
Personally I feel that you should start seeking book contracts and literary agents after you’ve decided on the genre of the book and done with a substantial portion of the writing. It may happen that you start thinking romantic comedy as you start writing, and what you end up writing is horror. It has happened with me, so really, it’s all quite possible.
2. Establish credibility beyond the obvious
The next step when you start reaching out to agents and agencies- I’d say have an established online presence by then. It helps to have a blog or a website where you self publish and you have some followers. Basically people will stay intrigued by you if they know that you can write for an audience. This blog that you are reading this on, is my attempt to establish that I am good at my craft (albeit some proofreading and editing challenges), and helps me hone my writing further.
A sub step to this would be to get yourself some guest writing assignments elsewhere. That’s another way to ensure that some part of your content is being published by others too. It adds tremendously to your repertoire.
3. Find a literary agent or a publishing agency
This is when you have to be honest about the potential of your work. If you want to be published by the big names (Harper Collins, Sceptre Books, Hachette India, Hutchinson London and so on) you will most likely need an agent. You will also need one if you are doing literary fiction or big books that you believe have the potential to change the world.
The other books, the smaller stories, the bits of non- fiction are that much harder to find an agent or a publisher for. These probably you should self publish. Non fiction doesn’t get signed on until the publisher is sure that it will sell in excess of 10,000 copies.
Finding the literary agent who’s the right fit for you is like finding a needle in a haystack.
Jane Friedman has excellent recommendations when it comes to this. This link here tells you a lot about getting published and of being a part of the right market places when it comes to agents. https://www.janefriedman.com/find-literary-agent/#:~:text=PublishersMarketplace.com%20is%20the%20best,AgentQuery.com.
I am based out of India and have also researched the Indian landscape. Sameer Kamat, a published author has a lot to say on this. http://www.sameerkamat.com/literary-agents-in-india/
It doesn’t matter though, the geography. Literary agents don’t have quotas for native writers and it’s all about whose attention you grab first. But finding an agent and getting published traditionally is probably the rung that will test how much faith you have in your work.
4. Keep your materials handy
If it’s fiction, it is best to have the first 2-3 chapters ready. When they ask for a sample, send the first chapter. It doesn’t make sense to send something from in between, no matter how well you think you’ve written it.
For non fiction, you can take your pick.
Most agencies will have a form that they expect to be meticulously filled out. Don’t cut corners there. It is the first representation of the idea that your book is. It demands as much focus as the book itself, if not more. Always keep handy a well written synopsis of the book. Keep it short, nothing more than 500 words and ensure that it captures beautifully the essence of the book. Often that’s the only document that is requested apart from a query letter.
Be sure to find out more about your agent too. What kind of books have they published before? Which authors do they have on their roster?
5. What after submission?
The right literary agent is both your mentor and guide. They will be able to tell you what worked out and what didn’t. The best agents serve as great sounding boards and are able to enrich your work with industry insights and their practical experience. Rejection is a part of the process. If anything, it means that your work was read by somebody and that there’s still scope for it to be turned into a master piece.
Publishing a book makes you understand first hand that writing is after all a business. It is a calling and a passionate affair for you, but getting published is a business. While you write your heart and soul for the first draft, the second draft is the best time to figure out what you are actually writing on and what do you want to do with it.