Let me start by admitting that I am not a published author yet. I have been successful at clearing a major hurdle, in that I’ve actually completed a manuscript. However, I have some significant editing to do before I’m ready to hand it over for publication. That doesn’t mean, though, that I’m not scouring the internet to determine how I’m going to get my book published. And as I slowly work my way through the tedious process of editing, I thought I’d share some of what I’ve unearthed with my research.
As you probably know, there are two primary methods you can use to publish your book. You can go the traditional route, where you approach an established publisher and try to convince them that your book is more deserving than the thousands of others that they’re considering. Or you can invest some of your own money (and in some cases, a significant amount of your own money) to get your work self published and ready for sale. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods, I’m afraid. So I thought I’d lay out here what I’ve learned so far.
This, I think, is the ultimate goal of most writers. I am in no way disparaging those that take the self publishing route. But let’s face it: this has been the way the business has been run forever. To say that you’ve been picked up by an established publishing house is a monumental achievement, and is something that comparatively few people can claim.
The big lesson I’ve taken from my research is: don’t go knocking on the door of a big publishing firm like Random House. They’re too busy, and if you go to their web sites they make it clear that they have little interest in hearing from individual, non-established authors. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you choose to look at it), there are agents who can make contact for you.
Agents typically ask for nothing up front. In fact, I ran across at least one advice article that recommended you completely avoid any literary agent that wants to charge you upfront. The way the business works, apparently, is that if they think they can sell your book, they’ll do the legwork. They’ll get their cut when the deal had been inked with the publisher.
Here are some agent finding resources I’ve come across. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend any of these yet. I will as soon as I get to that stage with my novel:
Writer’s Literary Agency
These guys go to great pains to woo those who are considering self publishing, or may have already self published. They acknowledge the frustrations of breaking into traditional publishing, and make the bold request to “Give Our Literary and Book Agency 90 Days To Sell Your Work…” I like the pitch, but again, I can’t vouch for them yet. In fact, I might offer a word of caution. It kind of sounds too good to be true. In doing my research, I found a number of dissatisfied customers. But to be fair, that was true of a lot of publishing services.
I have to admit, I really like this tool. It opens the door to apparently hundreds of agents who handle all writing genres. The links I’ve followed from my searches through this site have usually been current and useful.
I heard the siren-song of self-publishing years ago, and I still haven’t shaken it. From my research, it does appear that for a typically reasonable price, you can pay to have your book bound and available for sale relatively quickly. Most of the main Self Publishing sites offer editing and marketing advice (often for a price). So there’s definitely something to be said for getting your literary labor of love bound and online with Amazon.com.
The downside, though, is that the marketing pretty much falls on you. While the Self Publishing companies offer a variety of tools to help, you’re going to be spending a significant amount of time pushing your book in a variety of ways (assuming that sales mean anything to you. Heck, you might be happy just to have the book published).
There’s something that I think needs to be addressed about self publishing, though, before jumping into the web sites. If you go to Google, and start typing in any of the major Self Publishing companies, you’ll quickly notice that high up on the search suggestions will be the words “Company name” and “scam” (e.g. “Outskirts press scam”). I’ve looked at some of the complaints, and some of them look legit. But I also know of people who have used self publishing, and they have been perfectly happy with their service. I guess I’d advise you to do the same thing that you’d do any time that you plan on sinking a significant amount of money into anything…if it seems to stink before you commit, don’t do it.
Here are the primary companies I’ve found.
This is one of the more well known companies. I’ve found the website easy to navigate and the author packages pretty easy to understand. I’m not promoting then, as I haven’t used them yet. But it’s a good place to start to get an idea of what Self Publishing can offer.
These guys are like Outskirts. iUniverse offers a variety of author packages, but they cost significantly more. I’m assuming that their editorial and marketing advice is part of the reason why.
Lulu falls in between Outskirts and iUniverse, as far as prices are concerned. I found Lulu’s website the most engaging, and I feel they’ve done a better job selling their services. I may consider these guys if I decide on the self publishing route.
Of course, there’s plenty more resources out there. I have more listed at my writer’s blog at Sojourner Mountain (check out the resources link on the left). I hope that, if you’re just now starting down the path of trying to get a book published, that this information might save you some time as you plan out how to achieve your goals. My personal goal is, if not published, that at least I’ll have made significant progress over the course of the next 6 months. I’ll be sure to write an update when I get to that point. Until then, good luck!