There has never been a more exciting time for writers. On Saturday I attended a nice, one-day workshop packed with information to motivate and educate writers on how to get their books ready to hit the market.
Since my novel is almost ready to publish, I knew I needed to get the latest information from the experts: agents, edits and industry go-to people. While there, I got a personalized critique of my novel’s first ten pages from a professional editor. I also had a 10-minute session with an agent to pitch my book and get feedback on its relevance and appeal.
But one of the most valuable takeaways, other than to be sure my manuscript is the best it can be before I submit, was this piece of near-unanimous advice:
Writers should find the best publication route for their unique needs.
As in most of life, it is not a one-size-fits-all situation.
There is the traditional publishing route (submissions to agents, acceptance from an agent, agent submissions to publishing houses, acceptance from a publishing house, negotiations about terms, payment, etc., as well as marketing, promotion and publishing date). This process can take one to three years ( or longer) from start to finish.
On the far other end of the spectrum is the self-publication model. Here, the author does all the work and takes all the financial risk. She does all the editing, finds a publication avenue (Amazon Books for example), and is usually responsible for the costs of formatting the book for e-book/digital production, expenses of book cover design, etc.
Choose Your Own Path to Publishing
The first thing a writer should have is a strong belief in their work. You will need this to keep you going through all the twists and turns and the temporary setbacks.
You may be a good candidate for a traditional publisher if:
• You are not in a hurry to publish (your topic is not timely, for instance)
• You are sure you have more than one book in you (most agents and publishers want a long-term relationship)
• You don’t have the finances to self-publish
• You want someone else to handle all the production details (although if you want your book to be successful, you must help with the marketing and promotion, too)
One thing about going the traditional publishing route. Don’t let one professional’s opinion—or 50 expert views— that there is no market for your book discourage you. Agents and publishers have very specific interests and they don’t always match the topic or plot of your book. So do your research (look at their clients and their books to see if your work might be a good fit). And keep sending those query letters out until you find your agent.
You may be a better fit with self-publishing if:
• Getting your book out there is more important than how much money you make
• You want total control over your book: content, price, production decisions, etc.
• You have a budget for production costs
This just pierces the surface, but it’s a good place to start your thinking. Remember, no matter which way you go, believe in your book and hold firm to your own standards. In the end, you will be glad you did.
Oh, and if you are looking for a good overview of writing, editing and publishing and are not in the Seattle area, check to see if there are Writers Workshops in your city.