Up until recently, I was dumbfounded and a little intimidated by the world of publishing. As a writer, I’ve been through the traditional publishing route, trying to land that agent each time I finished revisions, but I really didn’t know what my other options were. I know other writers out there, especially beginners, can get a lost when it comes to who to submit your manuscript to, if you need an agent and which publishing houses to check out unagented. I was there. I know how you feel!
It does take some individual research when you bring your entire list submissions down to a few matches, but others may not even know where to begin. I’m here to discuss the four ways to get your manuscript published-pros and cons style.
1. Traditional Print Publishing. This is the agented route and very important to any beginner. For this you will finish the book (keyword: finish), write a query and synopsis, then pitch/submit said query to a list of researched agents that represent your work. A typical contract will include a two-book deal with the option for a third and profits are split between author, agent and publisher. You need to try to land your agent to figure out what’s wrong with your manuscript. You’ll start out with form rejection letters the first couple of submissions, but as you revise, perfect and resubmit, you’ll get more informative input from agents and editors. Fix those mistakes and keep trying.
If you haven’t unearthed any results with tradition print publishers after numerous rounds of editing and revising, try an e-publisher. Practically new within the last couple of years, e-publishers are willing to look over a lot of what the traditional publishers won’t. As long as you have a good story, they will take a chance on you because costs are down. It doesn’t take as much money to put out your e-book than it would a print.
2. Traditional E-Publishing. As a new and almost unchartered area for a lot of writers, these publishing houses are reputable, some a division of traditional print publishers, but only publish digitally. There are no physical books, only downloads. Since they are newer to the industry, submission guidelines are a little more relaxed and open. You still have to submit a query, but you’ll send along your entire manuscript as well. Guidelines may ask you to go through the simple process of reformatting. You will still receive the same amount of editing expertise as a traditional print publisher, but your book will be released (if accepted) sooner. However, seriously consider an e-publisher who does NOT go through all outlets of e-readers. We’re talking Kindle, Sony, Nook, iPad, Kobo, and a dozen more. The more devices, the more accessible your book is, which leads to higher sales. Royalties here can range from 35% to 50% depending on the publisher.
A few of these publishers include: Avon Impulse (Romance), Carina Press (Any adult genre), Sapphire Blue (Any adult genre), Ellora’s Cave (Romance), and Wild Rose Press (Romance). In order to find the publisher right for you, buy a book, read it, study the style of writing and editing. Were there a lot of mistakes? Will they catch yours?
Now, onto independent publishing. You are taking your goal of getting published upon yourself. No agents, no editors. You are doing the work yourself. A warning here: make sure your book is EDITED. I know how dumb that sounds, but have you seen some of the short stories and books online lately? If you want to be taken seriously or have a shot of being noticed by one of the big publishing houses through self-publishing, get as many eyes on your manuscript as possible. Try for a critique group. They all don’t have to be within your genre either. A romance writer may not catch what a non-fiction writer would. Diversify and bring in as many people as you can to give yourself the best chance or looking professional.
3. Independent Publishing. Let me start this point by saying you should NEVER have to pay someone to publish your book. EVER. EVER. EVER. Romance Writers of America and other organizations do not consider vanity press authors (independent print publishing) published, but that doesn’t mean that you have a horrible manuscript. It just means you shouldn’t be paying someone to put out your book. Independent publishing means you’re going to have a lot of your plate. You will have a full time job promoting, designing covers, editing, revising and writing the next in the series. This is all on you. Author Kris Tualla built her “Norway is the new Scotland” brand by self-publishing. She is retired, but spends about 70 hours a week promoting. This way of publishing can be very rewarding, but only if you’re willing to put in the hours and frustration. Royalties, if you don’t have a contract with a press, can skyrocket up to 70% here because you are devoting your time and energy into getting noticed. If you are in contact with a published author, ask them if they’d be interested in reading your manuscript. Try for that author blurb to put on your cover. That author’s fans are watching everything they do and they might be led to you.
4. Independent E-Publishing. Again, you shouldn’t have to pay for this. CreateSpace through Amazon or Smashwords.com will give you everything you need in order to publish your book digitally and it’s free. The same rules apply here as with independent print publishing. However, your costs will be down. You’re not going to be paying for those print books. You didn’t even pay to upload your book!
We are coming into a digital age. Books are available in more than ten different formats just for e-readers, depending on the reader, but print isn’t going out of style quite yet.
If you've tried both traditional publishers by this time, and you still haven’t gotten the results you want, it’s time to take a serious look at your manuscript. Something is wrong. Your book may not fit into the publishing industries’ box; it may not be sellable because of your premise. Whatever the reason is, get some other eyes in there. Get opinions from other WRITERS-not your mom-and see what the issue could be. The more the merrier. Writing is a very solitary art, but you need the opinions of others to sell.
You want to be published. That much is clear. And a better understanding of your options, and mine, will get you a step further than those who don’t do their homework. Good luck out there!