Book Publishing Options (part one)
There are numerous ways to get a book published these days. This week, we’ll talk about one. In subsequent weeks, we’ll cover some alternatives.
Most writers want to be published by a big, commercial, royalty-paying publisher. But most publishing houses focus the majority of their efforts on previously published authors who already have an established fan base. If you’re not at that level, getting a standard publisher to print your book can be difficult. But it’s not impossible. You can become a commercially published author by taking these steps:
- Learn the craft. (Take classes, join writers’ groups, study writing books, books on punctuation, grammar, and spelling, and books in your genre. Read blogs with writing tips—like this one!)
- Publish small pieces first (articles, scripts, Sunday school papers, etc.).
- Polish your book manuscript. (Do your best and then hire a professional editor.)
- Decide what types of books you want to become known for. (Publishers aren’t looking for single book ideas; they want to invest in authors who plan to write multiple similar books.)
- Design a marketing plan for selling your books.
- Network with people in the industry through conferences and conventions.
- Prepare a proposal, and get it professionally edited.
- Submit the proposal to agents and small publishers that accept the kind of writing you do.
- Send the complete manuscript to any agents or publishers who request it. (And prepare for rejection, because that’s the most likely response.)
- Wait while one or more publishing committees consider your book idea. (And prepare for rejection, because that’s still the most likely response.)
- If you get a contract, work with the publisher to edit and proofread your manuscript, then accept their choice of title, book cover, back-cover copy, etc.
- Promote your book through book signings, radio and TV interviews, your website, speaking engagements, social media networking, etc.
- Approximately one to two years after receiving the contract from the publisher, you’ll receive a few free copies of your book. Order several more at the author’s discount price. Give them to friends, family members, and influential people (like book reviewers).
- Write more books.
Sound like a lot of work? It is! Writing is a profession, and like most careers, a substantial investment of time and money is required to be successful.
Now, you could hire a professional author to write your book for you. But:
a. Most professional authors are busily working on their own careers.
b. Ghostwriting (aka collaborating or coauthoring) requires a substantial amount of time, which translates into a significant amount of money.
c. Good ghostwriters rarely work on a contingency basis, putting in all the time and expertise required to write a book and pitch it to publishers in exchange for a percentage of potential royalties. This usually only happens with celebrities whose well-recognized names can virtually guarantee high sales.
d. There’s no guarantee that even a great ghostwriter will be able to get your book commercially published.
If this sounds discouraging, don’t despair! Over the next few weeks, I’ll talk about alternatives to commercial publishing.