As a published author, I get this question all the time. The answer is simple: Write well.
Okay, that’s the first part. It’s far from the whole answer. It’s the most important part, however. Let’s assume we’re talking about being chosen by a traditional publishing house and not talking about self-publishing – I’ll cover that in the very last paragraph.
Stop here if you want help publishing any kind of self-help book. Unless you’re famous or have a PhD, the only option to publish self-help books is self-publishing.
Step One: Write something. (What you write is less important than how well you write it. Both are moot if you write nothing. So Step one is just to write something.)
Step Two: Spend a ginormous amount of effort making sure it’s well-edited. People have the delusion that the publishing house will clean up their writing before they publish it. That’s 100% true. A publishing house will edit the f**k out of your work-if they decide to publish it. However, the people that decided whether or not to publish your work will not read two sentences of poorly edited work.
Step Three: Now, make sure, once it’s edited, that it’s great. If it’s not, write something else and restart at step 1.
Author’s note: I have not brought up anything about style and skill as a writer. Here are some quick notes: A) Understand Point of View and use it correctly. B) Understand Tense and use it correctly. C) Understand the limits of narrative omniscience. Use omniscience correctly. D) Don’t write in 2nd person. Ever. E) If you write in First Person, it’s got to be 10x better than anything on the 3rd Person slush Pile. Writing in first person is amateurish 99% of the time. Statistically speaking you are not the 1%. (I’m right when I say this 99% of the time). So, don’t expect your first published work to be first person.
Now you’ve gotten something written. It’s edited and edited well. And It’s good. Go on to step 4.
Step Four: How long is your work? Is it short enough to be included in an anthology or magazine? Is it so long as to be a stand-alone book? If it’s short go to step Five. If it’s a book, go to Step 6.
Step Five: Publishing a Short: Go to Duotrope.com, find a periodical/anthology that prints your genre. Submit to that periodical/anthology following their guidelines. When you get rejected, repeat step five with another periodical/anthology.
Step Six: Get an Agent. This book has all the big agencies and many small ones: Follow the instructions in the book: https://www.amazon.com/Writers-Market-2018-Trusted-Published/dp/1440352631/
Honestly you could have skipped my whole blog post and just bought that book. It’s THE definitive guide to getting published.
Step Seven: Self Publishing. When all else fails or if you’re just too lazy or impatient to keep sending out manuscripts just to be rejected over and over again, go to kdp.amazon.com or http://www.createspace.com and work through their steps to publish the book yourself. You’ll be ridiculed by authors who have published the traditional way, but someone might read your work. You won’t make money unless you’re willing to front a few thousand for marketing. Even so, there’s no guarantee. If you didn’t hire an editor and you self-publish, expect to lose stars by people who start to read your book but can’t get past the misplaced or missing commas, mispellings and utter incomprehension of how to use semi-colons and em-dashes.
Postscript: You’ll notice I have not mentioned contacting publishers to get a book published. Simply don’t. Get an Agent. As a novice writer you’re just prey to the many pay-to-publish companies out there. Remember, no matter what, never pay any money to a publishing company. An agent only gets paid a percentage of whatever publishing contracts they arrange for you. So you don’t pay an agent directly either. You can, as a self-published author, expect to pay for editing, cover art and marketing. Pay directly to editors, artists and marketing firms. Don’t pay anyone calling themselves a publisher, ever.