How To Get Your First Book Published Using Traditional Route

You might have invested years worth of hard work, time, and sweat into your manuscript, and the time has come for you to shine and prepare to get your book published. If you are an aspiring writer, getting your book published for the first time can be a pretty big feat.

There essentially exist three ways to publish a book, which include either going down the traditional route, hiring a publisher, or self-publishing. In a traditional arrangement, an author hunts for a publisher that would offer them a contract to publish their book based on a full or partial manuscript that they take a liking to. The publisher assumes all related costs and pays the author advances and royalties in exchange for their book.

When an author chooses to hire a publisher instead, the hired publisher charges the author a specified amount to publish their book. Hybrid publishers, publishing services, and assisted publishers are some of the common titles allotted to such publishing companies.

When authors decide to self-publish, however, they choose to publish their books themselves. The author would have to hire all related help that they require in this process, and once published, they would sell their work through retailing platforms. Amazon is one of the most successful retailing platforms for authors who choose to self-publish their work.

While all these methods of book publishing have their respective pros and cons, this article specifically focuses on traditional publishing and everything that this method entails. Given below is a step-by-step breakdown of how an author can get their book published for the first time through the traditional route.

Step 1: Determining A Genre Or Category

The very first step to getting your book traditionally published involves determining your work’s genre or category. Certain publishers find their niche in certain categories, or may simply be looking to publish more in a given genre at a certain period in time. Furthermore, certain publishers only focus on publishing fiction and may refuse to publish any memoirs or related works at all.

Once your manuscript is complete, you must identify which genre or broad category your work falls into so that you can find the right publishers to approach. Without successfully pinning down this step, the remaining steps in your book publishing journey wouldn’t prove to be much fruitful.

In addition to determining your genre to create a list of potential publishers, you also need to be mindful of the fact that the approach for each genre toward traditional publishing differs. For instance, for memoirs, it is ideal that a manuscript is submitted to publishing companies once the work is complete, and the key with memoirs is to not rush any submission. Similarly, for all non-fiction books, it is essential that authors only create a partial manuscript for acceptance by a publishing house before completing their work.

Step 2: Finding A Suitable Publisher

Once you are completely on board with what you are offering, the next logical step is to find a suitable publisher. However, it is important to note that most publishers do not accept manuscripts or submissions that are not represented by an agent, and hence before looking for a suitable publisher, you should also be seeking out an agent to represent your work.

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A literary agent essentially represents authors and their written works, while working towards the best interests of their clients. New and bestselling authors alike require agents, and one agent could simultaneously be dealing with all sorts of authors. Agents act as intermediaries between publishing houses and authors and handle all sorts of negotiations and mutual requests from the author’s point of view.

For authors who are new to this scene, there exist multiple online resources that make it easier for them to seek and finalize both literary agents and publishers. One such popular platform is where authors can look for agents, editors, and publishers of existing titles. The website also allows users to search for agents and publishers based on genre and book categories.

While requires a subscription, another popular platform that offers its basic services for free is which features a limited yet comprehensive list of publishers and agents. Users can search for suitable publishers and agents and even get access to contact details for their shortlisted personnel.

Step 3: Preparing and Submitting Requests

Once you have shortlisted the agents and publishers you are looking to contact, the next step is to prepare all material required for submission and finalize your submission requests. While every agent and publisher might have slightly differing criteria for a submission, the basics of each submission remain the same and include a query letter, a synopsis, a proposal, and sample chapters. Out of all the material that goes into a submission, a query letter is the most essential one.

A query letter is essentially a one-page long document that gives an overall description of your work. It can be thought of as a sales letter or a “pitch” that aims to persuade the agent or publisher to request your complete manuscript or book proposal for further reading. To come up with a perfect query letter, you will have to go through tons of query letter examples before drafting one for your literary work.

A novel synopsis is essentially a summary of no more than two pages that covers the story of fiction from the start to the end, including all revelations. A proposal, on the other hand, is essentially required for a non-fiction work that is at least twenty pages in length and may go up to thirty or more. Furthermore, sample chapters are usually involved in novels and memoirs and are sometimes only provided upon request. Whenever you send in sample chapters, be sure to only send those from the beginning of your manuscript.

Once you have all your submission material gathered and in place, it is time that you send your submissions to shortlisted publishers. In response, you are either going to get a request for a full or a partial manuscript, which is potential acceptance, or get no response at all, which signifies a rejection.


The above article summarizes and simplifies the process of getting your book published traditionally. You will likely face a few rejections before getting an acceptance, and the key to the process of publishing traditionally is not losing heart. It may take months for your manuscript to get accepted by a reputed publisher, and any author should be careful to not abandon their project too quickly.

Featured photo by Dariusz Sankowski on Unsplash.