Publishing Your Novel
So you’ve finished your novel, edited it, made sure that it’s as good as you can make it and you’re not ready for the next step. What is it? There are two main paths for a writer: get
traditionally published or self-publish.
If you want to be traditionally “published” then you’ll need to find an agent, since they hold the keys to major publishers. Unless you are already a successful author, approaching a publisher
directly has a very, very low success rate.
Finding an agent is not an easy process. You must make sure they are reputable (reputable agents never charge fees to read your manuscript), they must like your work and agree to represent it,
and once they agree they must aggressively pitch your writing. The reality is that unsolicited manuscripts (novels sent without any kind of referral) have very slim chances of garnering
representation. But it does happen.
Once an agent agrees to represent you, they’ll shop your book around to publishers they think might be interested. And if your book is good enough, and you catch a publisher at the right time,
you might have yourself a book contract.
Will your book catch on with the public? Will it sell? That depends on how much you do to promote it, how much the publisher supports it, whether the topic is relevant and interesting,
and other factors. But regardless, you’ll have the satisfaction of seeing your book in Barnes & Nobles.
You might decide to forego the difficult process of getting an agent or a publisher and decide to publish the book yourself. Self-publishing has many flavors, from contracting and paying a
printer to produce a run of your books, to going to a print-on-demand (POD) publisher and having them print the books as the orders come in. Lately, the Internet has made self-publishing much more
viable and respectable. Many writers self-publish on Amazon Kindle and routinely outsell traditionally published authors.
Self-published writers have to do all of their own marketing and promotion. Of course nowadays, even a traditionally published writer is responsible for most
of their own marketing.
Self-published writers must also edit or contract out for editing, cover design, and book production. But many services have sprung up to help authors with these taks.
One of the biggest advantages of self-publishing is economic. By self-publishing, all of the sales revenue goes to you because you have cut out the publisher and the agent. As a result,
you’ll need to sell far fewer books to make a personal profit.
If you are marketing savvy, good with numbers, and enjoy promoting yourself then self-publishing is something to consider. And if you achieve success through
self-publishing and want to go a more traditional route, you’ll have a track record of sales success to provide you more leverage in your negotiation with agents and publishers.
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