…or an Author, to be more exact. First of all I’d like to point out that this is not a Writing 101 article. If you want to know how to write a great book, there are thousands of blogs and books out there that will give you the basics on the craft. So what is this post about? For most of my life, I’ve been drawn to the world of publishing and I’ve taken out (far too much) time to learn as much as I can about how to get published, something I assumed that everyone who was interested in being published would also do. But in the last few weeks, this theory has been proven to be flawed as I was twice invited to speak to a few writers about what I have learnt from my foray into the publishing world. I wasn’t surprised to find that people are more focused on writing their books rather than learning about what to do next, how to get noticed, who to send your work to, etc. But I was still stunned that a lot of things I took as common knowledge were unknown. So I put together a really quick rundown of what I said to the people I met last week and I hope this helps others out there. It’s mostly basic stuff but as I like to say, every little helps.
A traditional publisher is any publisher who will accept your work, have it edited (including providing a cover design), then market and distribute it to vendors. In an ideal world, we’d all get published via this route as you will have a professional team to work with you and guide you through the entire process, most importantly an editor and a publicist. The process shouldn’t cost you a penny as traditional publishers usually pay you an advance for your work, which they hope to recoup when your books sells. They are spending their money so chances are that they will put some energy into marketing your work. The flip side of this is that publishers are much pickier these days as hard copy book buying continues to dwindle. They are not necessarily looking for the best work any longer, they are looking for what will sell fast and in bulk quantities – autobiographies by “celebrities”, novels by established authors, novels by “celebrities”, fad fiction (tales about vampires and werewolves for example). Obviously this is a generalisation and there are still publishers who will rather have fantastic work than books that will fly off the shelves (although I imagine they’d hope for both). Books have about three months shelf life when sent to retailers so if your book doesn’t sell quickly, chances are the retailers won’t ask for more – or worse, they return them to the publishers. No publisher wants to bear that cost.
How do you approach a traditional publisher? These days, most big publishing houses will not accept unsolicited manuscripts so you’d have to find an agent. This is probably as difficult as finding a publisher so take time to consider who you want to send your work to and how many attempts you’re willing to put yourself through. I’d highly recommend the “Writers’ and Artists’ Year Book”
for more information on how to contact both publishers and agents.
Don’t use these! I can’t say this enough. DO NOT USE THESE. Unless, of course, you don’t want to make any money off your writing and you just want copies of your book for your family and friends. Once you pay someone to provide you with all the services a traditional publisher would, there is no point expecting them to market your work. Continue reading