by Shona Bradbury

updated 4/21/2023

This post contains many external links to products, tools, and articles I have found useful during the self-publishing process. None are affiliate links. 

Write like no one is reading. Get that first draft out of your head! Then revise, revise, revise! Use copyediting tools to improve readability. The following tools offer suggested edits to your work.

2 Editing

If you land an agent who sells your book to a publisher, then they may provide a professional editor for your book. If you are on the hunt for an agent with your debut work, you might consider hiring an editor to help you polish your manuscript first. 

3. Logline, Book Description, and Synopsis

You will need three things before you start querying agents: a logline, book description, and a synopsis.


This is one sentence that describes your entire book.

Book Description

This is a few paragraphs that describe what your book is about. It should have a hook (you can use your logline) and is designed to persuade someone to read your book. 


This is a larger description of your book from start to finish in about 500-800 words, including spoilers and ending. If you are having trouble encapsulating your entire story in a few pages, then that may tell you there is something wrong with your story.

4. Alpha Readers

Make friends with another writer who writes in the same genre or style as you. You can be Alpha readers for each other. Here are some links to critique questions that may be helpful when tell your Alpha reader what kind of feedback you are looking for.

5. Beta Readers (Target Audience Test Readers)

Think about who your ideal reader is (other than yourself). This is a good time to look at the demographics for your audience.

Once you have identified your ideal reader, then it’s time to find some Beta readers that fit that profile. You can find them at local book clubs, on social media, or even in our writing group. Just like with Alpha readers, you will want to prepare them with the type of feedback you are looking for.

6. Platform

A lot of agents will be looking at your platform to evaluate if you are going to be a good investment on their part. They will be looking at your author website, public social media accounts, awards you have won. If you have published before, they will want to know sales information from your first run. No matter what you write, they will be looking to see how engaged you are with your community (potential readers).

7. Query Letter

A query letter has basic components but is an art form in itself! As you start sending out query letters, you might get some feedback that causes you to revise it. It is good if you have a couple different query letters to try out to see which one is the better lure for your hook!

MasterClass - How to Write a Query Letter an Agent Will Read in 9 Steps

8. Landing an Agent


There are a few tools out there to help you find agents to query. 



Manuscript Wish List

You will probably want to keep a spreadsheet to track who you have submitted to. 


Make sure you read everything you can find about an agent before you reach out to them. 

Be careful of scams. Make sure your agent is legitimate.

9. You have an Agent! Now They Sell Your Book to a Publisher

After you get an agent, it is their job to find a publisher for your book. They may provide an editor to help you revise your book, again. The agent is following a similar process you did with the query letter. They have their own query process and access to the big publishing houses and film studios.

10. Publisher Preparation

Now your agent has sold your book to a publishing company. They will often provide an editor to work with you on yet another revision. They will also hire designers to create your book cover and other marketing materials.

11. Support Sales and Marketing of Your Published Book!

Even with a publishing house behind you, you will still be expected to perform some marketing tasks.


Tell everyone your book is available for pre-order. This is when your book is listed for sale, to be released at a future date. If you have anyone lined up to post a review based on an ARC, this is when they can get in there and do it. Your publishing company and agent may be able to line up blurbs from other authors as well as professional reviews.

Plan a Launch Party!

You wrote a book! It’s time to party! Invite all your friends and neighbors. Ask your local bookstore or library if you can host it there.

Social Media

Are your readers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, or other? Tell the world you have a book coming out!

Author Website

If someone googles your name, what comes up? Hopefully, it is your author website. This website should have information and links to your books for sale! It will be your reader’s way to find out more information about you. So make sure they can find you on social media, sign up for your newsletter, and most importantly, buy your books!


If you host a newsletter, make sure you tell them you have a book coming out!

Book Tour

Your publishing company and agent may schedule a book tour for you. This can be physical locations, virtual, blogs, podcasts, etc.