How to Publish Your Book
Publishing your book is a great experience for a writer, no matter what avenue you go down to achieve it. It isn’t necessarily an easy or straightforward task to complete, however, and it depends on what route you want to take.
The first thing you need to do, however, is write your book. Write it, rewrite it, redraft it, edit it. No matter what route you want to take for publishing, you need to make sure that your book is as high quality as you can make it. If you can imagine happily sending the book to the head publisher at the biggest publishing company in the world, then it’s probably ready. You won’t be sending it to those publishers directly, but you need to have that level of confidence in your book and your writing.
At this stage there is also the option of paying somebody to help. There are private editors, beta-readers, feedback and critique groups, proof-readers, and other writers available to you, although some of that type of support is only available for a price. Whether or not you need this support is completely down to you. But do your research first. Find out what they’ve worked on before, ask for a sample of their work and shop around. This can get very expensive, though, if you want someone to edit your 80,000 word book and it isn’t a necessity.
This is the only stage that you should pay for anything in relation to your book.
Next you need to decide which route to take. Do you self-publish, do you go the traditional route, do you go for an independent publisher, or do you go for a vanity press?
Of those four, never use a vanity press! They’re the ones who charge you to publish your book. They’ll often make some great promises about how they can sell tens of thousands of copies, or make you the next big author. These are either scams or empty promises. If you’re considering using one of these people, don’t.
The other options are up to you. There are pros and cons for whichever you choose. Self-publishing is easier but there is generally less reward or success for the book. Traditional publishing is harder but comes with a higher chance of success. Independent publishers are sort of the middle ground, bringing a relative chance for the book to be read by people and it’s somewhat easier than traditional publishing.
Find the right company or companies and follow their instructions. But make sure that you shop around a bit before you just go with Amazon purely because it’s Amazon.
You should never pay for this. If a company wants to charge for publishing find another one.
Once you find the publisher(s) that you’re happy with, follow their instructions and give them your book. This is usually uploading a file to a website and they do all of the necessary bits. If you go with a print on demand service, like CreateSpace, then you’ll have to format your book differently to an ebook version, but they mostly work the same. Upload a document and you have self-published.
Find a company that is accepting unsolicited manuscripts. What this means is that they accept books directly from the author. Each company will have its own guidelines and terms for submission. Read and follow them. This will usually consist of sending a covering letter and the opening part. It could be the first two chapters or the first few thousand words. They’ll tell you all of that in their guidelines. Follow them.
For this you’ll need to get an agent first. There are a few different ways to get one. Generally speaking, you need to find an agent that you like and approach them. This is a topic in of itself so I’ll just summarise. Find a book or author that you enjoy and look at who their agent is. This information can often be found in their published books, or you can Google it. Most of the information will be available online. Then you need to find out if that agent is interested in the type of book you’ve written. Just because you liked Twilight doesn’t mean you should approach Stephanie Meyer’s agent with your historical, sci-fi murder mystery book.
Once you’ve found someone that’s a good fit for both you and your book, find a bunch more. It’s unlikely that you’ll be accepted by the first agent that you approach. Approaching an agent is pretty much the same as approaching an independent publisher. Find them online and follow their submission guidelines. Approach a few at a time, wait for the yes or no and repeat until you have an agent.
Once you have an agent, you’ll work with them to get your book up to publishing standard and they’ll work to get a publisher on board.
At no point should you pay to get your book published.
I know I mention that a lot, but I see far too many people who talk about the exorbitant quote they’ve received to get their book published, asking for advice on if it’s a good deal. It isn’t. It never is and never will be. There are elements of the publishing journey that you can pay for if you choose to, but publishing is never in that. Editing, formatting, design, development, cover work, getting your document ready for publishing are all things that you could legitimately pay money for and it not be a scam. But these are optional extras. If someone will only take on your book if you pay them for it, it’s a scam. You don’t pay a publisher. They pay you.
Ultimately, what’s more important than anything, no matter what route you take, is you need to make damn sure that whatever you’ve written is as good as you can possibly make it before you start selling it.
© 2017 David Chitty
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.