Getting Your First Novel Published

Q: I have written several novels over the years and I have one I wish to publish. How do I go about doing that? -Dawn

That’s a tough question right now, because the traditional publishing process seems almost broken. Not long ago, St. Martin’s Press would have a monthly “slush night,” where they’d throw all their junior editors in a room with all of the unsolicited manuscripts and a few pizzas, and they wouldn’t let them out until everything had been at least looked at. I believe St. Martin’s was the last big publisher to even look at unagented material, and now even they have closed that door.

Bottom line, you have to have an agent now to get read by a big house. So what does that mean? Either you have to put together a great query letter and synopsis, and start hitting the agents, or else you have to find one of the smaller, independent publishers (some of which are doing fantastic work). Ideally, you’d start out trying to hit some of both.

Steve Hamilton, Author of the Alex McKnight Novels
Winner of the Edgar and Shamus Awards for Best First Novel