Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
lucinda literary how to get book deal
lucinda literary how to get book deal
Photo Courtesy of Lucinda Halpern
Career > Her20s

Want To Get Your Own Book Published? Lucinda Halpern Is Here To Help

The literary and publishing industry has evolved in more ways than one. It’s faced its fair share of book bans, a push to uplift diverse authors and embrace queer stories, and of course, BookTok has transformed how readers engage with books — I’ve officially jumped on the Fourth Wing hype train. The publishing industry has also proven to be complicated to navigate, though, especially as an aspiring author. 

Lucinda Halpern, author of Get Signed and founder of her own literary agency, Lucinda Literary LLC, has worked with various authors and realized that while there are several resources for writers to tap into, it can be a black hole. “There’s such a need for information in the writers community,” says Halpern. “So many people don’t get responses, or have to deal with unhelpful responses and misinformation.” 

To help, Halpern created a series of virtual courses that provided writers with the tools they needed to succeed. “The courses were really the genesis of the book. Get Signed comes out on Feb. 6, and takes readers through that process — from “big idea” to publishing all in one place,” says Halpern. 

Write your book.

Lucinda Halpern
Photo Courtesy of Lucinda Halpern

While becoming a New York Times bestseller is exciting, Halpern says the trick to writing a book that will attract an agent comes from something that will sell for years to come. “Think of it as something timely and timeless. If it will strike a chord between those, and hook readers and grab the media’s attention, you’re on the right track,” says Halpern. 

Getting to that “big idea” can be difficult and I know I’ve felt the overwhelming pressure of trying to achieve that idea, but Halpern breaks it down a step further. She says, “Diversity and inclusion are the big orders of the day now, and people want to see it reflected in characters. That combined with perennial themes of loss, coming of age, found family, and even trauma allows an idea to begin to feel new.” 

Build an audience for your book. 

Every book needs its reader, so building an audience is a crucial step in the publishing process. Who is going to read your book? What platforms do you have access to that can help spread the word about your book? As Gen Zers, we’re lucky to live in the age of social media, where opening a new Instagram or TikTok account is an easy thing. 

Use that to your advantage. Open a TikTok account that’s dedicated to your journey as a writer. Sharing behind-the-scenes content, updates on writing, and excerpts from your latest manuscript can help you build traction and gain a few followers. For anyone who would rather do written content, Substack is a great platform to build a strong following and provide readers with excerpts from your book. 

“While platforms like Substack introduce the serialization of content, it can be a helpful tool in gaining fans,” Halpern says. “The people who are your fans will want to buy your book, and keep following and consuming content from you in whatever way they can.” 

Query your book to agents. 

You’ve written the book, have the manuscript, and now you’re ready to query. It can be a daunting process to write the perfect query letter, but it’s not impossible. Your query letter and pitch are your opportunity to connect with an agent. There’s a wide network of agents with some literary agency sites that require queries through an online portal system, but for others, it’s as simple as sending an email. “A subject line is worth a thousand words. Speak to the heart of the interests in the book and provide a personalized intro,” Halpern says. “Don’t be afraid of a little flattery either.” 

A query is almost like a written movie trailer. You want to give the agents enough information so they’re hooked. “If we’re not getting a sense of what the action is, you’re not leaving us with much. Focus on the action less of the exposition for fiction,” says Halpern. “For non-fiction work, focus on giving agents the takeaways for the reader when you send your query.” 

Break into the industry while in college. 

While my dream is to be a novelist and spend my days writing, the reality is that it might not be a sustainable career as an upcoming college grad. If this is you too, don’t be discouraged. “Networking is the very best thing you can do in college,” Halpern says. “Social media shouldn’t be overlooked with it, either.” As you’re working on your book, use social platforms to connect to editors. Send them a DM or find them on LinkedIn and send a connection request — you never where a connection can lead you. 

If you’re looking for a role in the publishing industry, Halpern says, “You also want to make sure that while you’re sending these connection requests and networking, you don’t forget to share how you can contribute to the company. What are the values that you bring? How can you help the team achieve their goals as a company or an agency?”

Deciding to get published is a big step. It involves a lot of moving parts, and might not always be a linear journey, but it isn’t impossible. It requires hard work and dedication to the process, but if you’re passionate about your idea and want to get it into the hands of readers, go for it. “For me, it wasn’t about, ‘What am I going to do with this career?’ It was ‘Let me be really good and learn as much as I can,’” Halpern says. “Try out different jobs in the industry, work your way up, and in the end, you can make a livelihood and be very joyful, and find tremendous meaning in it.” 

Kaitlynne Rainne is a HER Campus National Writer on the Life and Career team and she writes about advice, life experiences and profiles. Born and raised in Belize, Kaitlynne grew up surrounded by culture and stories. They fueled a creative passion for storytelling that led her to Savannah, Georgia, where she completed her BFA in Fashion Design at SCAD. She is currently completing her MFA in Writing at SCAD with a focus on creative nonfiction, freelance writing and fiction. Outside of HER Campus, Kaitlynne also works as Editor-in-Chief at her school’s college newspaper, District. Her work has also been published in Port City Review and Square 95. In her free time, you can find Kaitlynne taking walks throughout Savannah, making oddly specific playlists on Spotify, sipping a vanilla chai, writing her novel, or spending time with her friends.