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How to Stay Tuned into the Publishing Industry

As a writer, it may seem that your energy is best spent on creating, drafting, and revising your project. While we recognize how important it is to dedicate time to your craft (and have shared tips on how to optimize your writing time), you should also remember to consume as much as you produce and listen as much as you write.

Not only will this help you find new ideas and inspiration for your own project, it can also help bolster your credibility as an aspiring author. By tuning into the publishing marketplace and learning what is—and isn’t—flying off the shelves, you can improve your own writing and prove your dedication to crafting a timely book to an agent or publisher.

Here’s just a few tips to guide you on where and how you should keep in touch with the landscape of book publishing:

First, consider getting an account with Publishers Marketplace or QueryTrackerPublishers Marketplace is one of the most comprehensive publishing resources available, used by writers, agents, and editors alike, keeping users updated with the current events of the publishing world. You can use it to assess what books are doing well in your particular genre and include them as comps for your own book. It’s also a great way to learn more about the intricacies of book deals as well as which particular editors and imprints could be best suited to your category, which can help you advocate for yourself when it’s finally time for your book to be auctioned. If you don’t want to pay for a subscription, QueryTracker is a great free database for matching aspiring authors with agents.

Second, follow your role models. Identify people in the industry—from bestselling authors to editors at publishing houses—that inspire you and actively consume their content. Pay attention to how often they post, and where. If they’re an author, do they promote their projects via blog posts? Do they go live on Instagram or host virtual events that engage the audience? How hands-on is their book promotion? If they’re an agent or editor, does their online presence suggest anything about what books they’re looking to acquire? Identify what attracts you to these voices in the industry and take notes on them—you will be better equipped to write a stellar, personalized query letter when the time comes.

Third, read popular book reviews. Blogs, Bookstagram accounts, Goodreads, Facebook groups, Youtube book review channels, and BookTok (the affectionate name for book discussion on TikTok) can all be valuable tools to determine what’s popular in your genre and what readers are talking about on the daily. While Publishers Marketplace, Publishers Weekly, and other outlets are excellent for concrete news and numbers, these more casual channels offer a look into what your potential readers actually think. For example, if you’re writing a science fiction novel, sites like Early Bookish Birds can give you insight into what real people are looking for now in your genre. Similarly, you should be looking at hashtags that relate to your genre on Instagram and follow popular or interesting profiles that cater to your niche. 

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Lastly, interact with the community. Passively consuming media is a useful method in staying tuned to the publishing industry, but it’s even more useful if you engage in it. Joining a writers’ community (such as Absolute Write) is a smart way to keep yourself accountable for your writing, but it also gives you insight into what’s trending among authors. Additionally, it’s a casual form of online networking with fellow authors that could help you promote your book someday. Posting about your genre or niche interest on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook can also help you gain followers and stay up-to-date on the latest publishing trends. 

The more you know about the industry, the more likely you are to break in. Keeping a pulse on what’s happening in publishing will set you up for success after that manuscript has finally been tackled. By using these methods, you can become an expert in your genre, which puts you ahead of the competition. Knowing what agents (and readers!) want will make you stand out from other authors when it comes time to present your book to the market.