A friend wrote to me about a friend of his who was writing a book proposal and wanted to know what to do next.
These questions always make me sigh because there's so much new writers need to know.
There are a few books that can help. One is Susan Page's The Shortest Distance Between You and a Published Book. It gives the lowdown on the process from idea to book. Another is Arielle Eckstut's Putting Your Passion Into Print.
Once you have a proposal, you want to find an agent. One place to find agents is to look in the acknowledgment pages of books like yours and query the agent that sold that book. Or pick up Jeff Herman's book on publishing or Writer's Digest Literary Agents.
If you've never written a query letter, you need to know how to write a great query letter. Lisa Collier Cool has a wonderful book on queries. There are others, too.
Then you query a list of agents and you wait, and you hope. If you're given to such things, you say prayers, light candles.
One thing you don't want to do is ask an author you don't know, who's never seen your work, to recommend agents. It renders authors speechless when that happens.
If you're interested in publishing, it's never too early to start reading books on publishing, going to writers' conferences, book signings, attending panels and listening to author and agent interviews. (On my show, Writers on Writing, I often interview agents, and Marrie and I always interview authors.)
Bone up! Writing is like any other field; you have to know the business as well as the craft. I sound harsh, don't I? It's a process, learning craft and learning the business. And if you want to be published, it takes both.