I am often asked, “How can I get my book published?” The answer is not complicated but the work involved can be, especially if the author is not properly schooled on the publishing process. So, I want to share the advice I have given to many.
Step 1 – Do Your Homework
Writing a book, for many, is an arduous process. If you are one of the few who has successfully taken that wonderful manuscript from your mind and put it on paper, congratulations! Now the real work begins. The days of publishers paying handsome advances for a writer to squirrel away and type on a keyboard are over. The author who is lucky to live off advances and have a publisher promote and market his book is an anomaly. You must understand the publishing industry. I recommend reading Dan Poynter’s “Self-Publishing Manual.” Don’t let the title fool you and know that I do not necessarily recommend self-publishing. The book will give you a quick intro into the industry. There are terms/concepts you need to understand such as: POD, Vanity Press, Off-set Printing, Agents, Copyright, Trademark, ISBN, Bar Code, Best Seller (what is it and how is it attained? The answer will surprise you.) Roll up your sleeve and prepare to work!
Step 2 – Set Realistic Goals
Every author thinks he has the next best-seller, and he does. If you think you can retire on the royalties from your first book, you are completely delusional. Quite the contrary. Following hours of sweat equity, most authors invest money in their own work. The amount varies greatly, but at the very least, most authors have to purchase the books they hand out as promotion and gifts. So, go into the venture knowing it won’t make you rich and could make you broke. Use your book as a launchpad, a loss-leader. Many authors are asked to speak (for free), which is one of many ways to market your book.
Step 3 – Do More Homework
As you write your book, begin contacting potential publishers. Target only publishers interested in your genre and do not send lengthy form letters. Find out how they want to be approached. Be prepared to write 100 different letters to 100 different publishers. If you pursue an agent, be wary. An agent is as good as his Rolodex. The best source for information on publishers, agents, and the dos and don’ts of query letters is “Writer’s Market,” the annual publishing resource. Do not wait until your manuscript is complete to begin seeking a publisher or agent, but do have it started with a clear outline of the chapters. Also, publishers want to know your marketing plan.
Step 4 – Do Not Get Discouraged
Good things in life take a long time. Give yourself a solid year to find a publisher or agent. As you search, do not let grass grow under your feet. Do not wait for answers before seeking the next publisher. Start the buzz! Keep your chin up. Persevere!
Step 5 – Have A Marketing Plan
All publishers, big and small, want to know that you can identify your market, know the best way to reach it, and can offer at least three reasons why your book will appeal to your market niche over the next author’s. Most authors I’ve met are serious artists and not the best businessmen. Know your limitations. Even some of the most decorated authors hire their own publicists. So, again, there are costs involved for the artist/author. Again, be realistic about this process, do your homework, set your goals, and persevere if you want to succeed.
Marketing is the larger part of publishing. More on this in Part 2 of “How to Publish a Book.”
In the meantime, please enjoy my recent Cucina Chatter Radio conversation with Author Ruth Zavitsanos. She is a Philadelphia-area author who has a wonderful children’s series told from a dog’s perspective: “The Villa Dog,” “The Old Fortress Dog,” “The Kona Dog.” She is also the author of “Flight of Little Dove” and her newest release “Sisters Inn,” both set in the late 19th Century and appropriate for readers of all ages.
Books make great Christmas presents, which is why I am happy to interview authors in December.
Mangia & Enjoy!