All your book covers should have a pig on them.

Or not. This is the way I did it, which might or might not be helpful to you. The thing is, everyone’s story is a little different. But there are a few commonalities I’ll try to point out that might help. None of this replaces the process of research and query that everyone goes through, but it might help shorten that experience.

  1. Write a book. So this seems straightforward, and it is, sort of. But almost no one just writes a book and gets it published. They have to practice first. You might write fourteen books that you put in a closet and never let see the light of day (Brandon Sanderson), or you do as I and many other authors do, and write the same book over and over and over and over. It doesn’t even have to be a book. Just write something. The point is, you keep at it until you begin to write competently.
  2. Attend events where writers, publishers, agents and other industry professionals hang out. While first and foremost you need to have something worth publishing, the importance of making contacts in you industry can not be overstated. For me it was the Superstars Writing Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (I highly recommend it.) Making friends not only gives you access to valuable insights that can help you along your career path, you can also find incredible opportunities that your newly-informed self would never have been privy to otherwise.
  3. Run toward all the things that scare you. Stick out your hand and say hi. Read your pages in front of rooms full of people. Get critiques from folks who know their stuff. Do all of the things that terrify you. How do you know which ones to do? If the thought of doing it makes you sick to your stomach, do that. Every one of these experiences will not only strengthen you, but they will also get you out in front of others, which is where you need to be. No one will discover you if you write the World’s Best Novel and sit with it on your sofa watching Batwoman. This category includes research of which agents and editors might dig your stuff and sending them queries.
  4. Sit next to an acquisitions editor at a writer’s conference and chatter inanely about what a great reception your writing has been garnering. So, this might be mostly luck, but it worked for me. Honestly, I had no idea what she did, I assumed she was just another writer, and we were chatting about our work. Imagine my shock, terror, and joy when she asked to look at my manuscript! However, it does put some of the earlier items into perspective. Put yourself in the right place, at the right time, and then be active in obtaining the outcome you want. Which leads directly into…
  5. Don’t be a dick. Whether it’s another author, a publisher, or a person on the street who likes to read books, be nice. Be thoughtful. Do not be pushy. An editor will remember you for being a decent human being with an interesting pitch, but you will be seared into their brain if you act like an asshole, and these people do talk to one another.

So do the thing! Write, go places, put yourself out there, make your own luck, and don’t be a jackass about it. If your writing is good, and we both know it is, you will succeed.

Kevin Pettway is the author of the Misplaced Mercenary series, a proud father of two rotten dogs, and a fan of the new Batwoman TV show. (Ruby Rose is intense.) The first book in the Misplaced series, A Good Running Away, releases January 9, and is currently available for preorder. Download the short story A Drink with Death for free, and receive updates about new releases, giveaways, and other fun stuff.

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  1. JAB on October 15, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    I absolutely love your cover advice, and the five steps are awesome!

    • Kevin on October 28, 2019 at 1:24 pm

      Thanks, Jab. It’s hard to say anything definitively, because there are so many ways to get there, and because I am still new. But what I CAN do is say how it happened for me. 🙂