Writing a Book – Each week I identify a different theme and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme in two separate posts.
The first post represents my thoughts, experience, advice or questions on whatever the weekly theme is. Usually…later in the week, a second post will expand on the theme and/or summarize and provide links to several articles and videos from other sources, providing additional information on the weekly theme. And that generally wraps up the particular theme for the week. This theme has been a little different, however.
This is the 3rd post in a series on writing a book…with still more to come.
In Parts 1 and 2 of “9 (Real) Tips for Writing a Book” I mentioned determining your route for publishing the book and promised to expand on the topic. Promise (partially) delivered! I hope you find this useful.
Don’t Wait To Finish the Manuscript
If you wait until the manuscript is finished before you start your journey down the path of determining a publishing route, you will have lost valuable time, perhaps incurred increased costs, and most likely wasted at least some effort.
Start the journey early. You can begin before a single word is written, and you can be knee-deep in it once you have a synopsis, an outline, and 2 full chapters written. This is more than enough to get well on your way to determining your route.
3 Primary Options
There are 3 primary publishing options. They are:
- Traditional publishing
- Hybrid publishing
Let’s explore each of these.
With traditional publishing, the author typically is paid an advance up-front. When the author’s “cut” from book sales exceeds advance, the author is paid royalties. If that threshold is not met, the author may have to pay back some of the advance.
The author excerpts very little control in the process, and receives a very small percentage of proceeds from sales, but effectively only has to worry about actually writing and promoting the book. The publisher takes care of everything else, including a degree of promotion.
The good news for budding authors is that with increasingly simpler technology available to us, it is easier than ever to write a book. The bad (perhaps, perhaps not) news is that it is more difficult than ever to land a publishing deal with a major publisher. Many of the big household names won’t accept manuscripts from unknown, unrepresented authors. They may work exclusively with agents in their approved networks or they may simply solicit authors rather than have authors solicit them.
If you are someone who has built a very massive following, are famous (or infamous), or have already written a very well received book, you have a great shot at being picked up by a traditional publisher. But if you are a first time or unknown author, in other words, like most people, you’re pretty much screwed.
Some people feel that landing a traditional publisher adds the perception of legitimacy to book (and author). If you are bent on looking for a traditional publisher, but this is your first book or you are unknown, spend some time in bookstores and online. Look for boutique or niche publishers that fit your genre, then target them.
Just for fun you might try submitting to the big name publishers if they’ll accept proposals. Hey, it’s fun to play the lottery, right? So what the heck? Go for it. Just don’t hang your future on it.
A Recommended Process to Follow
Follow this process:
- Make a “hit” list of publishers you want to submit proposals to
- Limit the list (I arbitrarily landed on 20 for a trade book, but you might consider 100 or more for fiction and other)
- Research how, when, in what format they accept submissions (most post their guidelines online)
- Determine which accepts only from a literary agent
- Determine if you want to seek one (I didn’t)
- If you do, be very clear about which publishers you will contact directly yourself, just so there is no confusion or doubling up
- Write a great cover letter and synopsis (lots of great advice is available on how to do this…use it)
- If necessary, write a great proposal…look around and ask for samples from others who have had some success with theirs
- Start sending and keep a list of who you sent to when
- For boutique publishers you might follow-up with a personal phone call
- Be patient – some tell you upfront you shouldn’t expect to hear from them for many months
To be continued….
We will talk about the other routes in the next post. Meanwhile, please check out my book Business is ART on Amazon. While it is written specifically for business, your book and you as its author are in fact a small business. I think you will find it very helpful.