When diving into the world of publishing, it’s important to know what you’re diving into. The publishing world is complex. Agents. Editors. Publicists. Publishing houses. Contracts. Publishers. And more.
And before all of that you’ve got to write your novel.
This is why doing research is vital. Research before, during, and after writing your book. Continue researching even after you’ve been published. Stay up to date on what’s happening.
There are three main types of research you should do when involved with the literary world:
- Your book. When you get an idea for a novel, it doesn’t matter whether it’s fiction or not, you need to get the facts straight. As an avid reader, one of my biggest issues is reading a book where I know the author did absolutely no research. If half the teenage protagonist’s house gets burned down, the mother and police won’t just shrug their shoulders and leave the teenager alone (without having done any investigating), especially when she tells them that she has no idea why so-and-so tried to burn the house down with her in it. Not to mention having no idea what a normal high school day is like. (Please, if you’re writing YA and have a high school in your novel, know what the typical teenage schedule is like. Even if you’re writing fantasy and school is only a small portion of it, teachers will not make fun of a teenage girl when she comes up and tells them that a guy is making her very uncomfortable.)
- Your competition. Know the books that are similar to yours, or at least share the same category. You want to know why certain books were successful and why others weren’t. More importantly, you want to be able to communicate to agents and editors why your book will succeed despite what’s already published.
- Agents and Editors. The Internet has made access to information much easier. It’s also allowed for an influx of information that can be overwhelming. However, you want to know which agents and editors would be interested in your novel. If your book is an adult fantasy, you don’t want to waste your time querying an agent who only represents YA contemporary. You can also find information on when certain agents and editors will be at writing conferences. Go to those conferences. Meet those agents and editors. Give them a face and a name to remember. (In a good way only. If they remember you as the creepy stalker, who trailed them for the entire conference without saying a word, they will most likely not represent you.)
Creating lists of agents and editors, and documents for your book research and on your competition will help you to keep everything organized.
Bottom line: By doing thorough research, you will save yourself time and a headache. Plus, you’ll know what you’re talking about when you do get that call from an agent.
What kind of research do you do?