You are here:

Writing Books/wondering how to become published


Could you please tell me what, if any, are the simplest guidlines to becoming a published writer. I have finished writing my first book, working on my second, have the idea for the third and fourth. I am truly interested in writing, as I always have been. Please help me if you can. Thank You for your time.

Hi, Tessa!

Well, the "simplest" guidelines are:

1.  Write a book that will fit easily on an existing bookstore shelf (romance, horror, literary, SF/F, mystery, etc.)

2.  Make the characters interesting and the plot compelling so that people have a hard time putting it down.

3.  After finished, put it in a drawer for 1-6 months (until you've forgotten the fine points of the plot.)

4.  Read it again and correct the mistakes you will undoubtedly find.

5.  Repeat one more time, but for a shorter period.

6.  Find someone who (and this is important!) reads and enjoys the genre you wrote the book in, to help you find plot and character errors you missed (called a "beta reader".)

7.  Buy or borrow from the library the book called, "The Street-Smart Writer" by Jenna Glatzer and Daniel Steven, which will help you learn the writing process and teach you how to avoid scammers.

8.  Once you're happy with the manuscript, learn to write a query letter. This isn't at all the same as writing the novel, and is a learned skill. Visit  and look for the link at the top left "How to Write a Query."

9.  Write the query. Visit writer websites to help you hone it down to the best possible form. I suggest: and for this purpose. The Query Letter section is pretty easy to find on both and there will be people there to help you make the letter work well. But you'll have to have a thick skin. They WILL tell you if you've made mistakes and will expect you'll take the criticism in good stride and good humor, without getting snarky or angry in reply.

10.  Go back to Agent Query and search for agents who handle your type of books.

11.  Send out query. Wait for reply. If you get a request for pages or the full manuscript, send it and keep trying until someone accepts. It's not a quick process, but it's the best one out there! :D

Good luck!

Writing Books

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]