I'm a nineteen year old author working on a young adult novel. I've gotten good feedback on it from writing teachers and when I finish with it, I want to submit it for publication. When I am done, what is my first step in figuring out how to market it and submit it to publishers?
Ned Said: Dana, if you're a 19-year-old author looking to publish your first young adult novel, you need to decide whether you want to publish with a major publishing house (Random House, HarperCollins, etc.) or an independent house (like Free Spirit Publishing, who published my first book when I was 19).
The reason this is important is that major publishing houses will not look at your manuscript unless you are represented by an agent. Independent publishing houses, in general, will.
The question over whether to publish with an independent or major house has always been divisive and is still complicated today. Although major publishing houses usually have more resources at their disposal to pay you, the indie book world has been full of success stories over the last 10 years. Authors such as Shane Jones (Light Boxes) have seen their books move from independent houses to major houses; others like Noah Cicero (The Condemned) publish exclusively with independent houses or on their own via Lulu to a vibrant and supportive audience. Don't discount the loyal readership you can get in the independent book world.
Once you've decided whether you want to publish with an independent or a major, get the 2011 edition of Writer's Market. This is like a Yellow Pages (remember those?) for writers; it lists agents and publishers, with their addresses, emails, and areas of expertise.
Go through Writer's Market and look for someone who will get your stuff. (If you've written a supernatural book about gardening, you should be looking for an agent or independent house that specializes in organic ghost stories.) Make a list of 7 people to submit to and send your book off! At that point, you have to trust that the proof is in the pages. Good luck!
Have a question about the writing world? Ask Ned! You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can learn more about Ned at www.nedvizzini.com.
Image Credit (above): The Pizza Place. Katherine Gorman, Grade 12. Painting. 2010 Art Portfolio Silver Medal.