The days when eager, new English major graduates from Smith and Wellesley were hired by publishers to plow through piles of unsolicited manuscripts are over.
Publishers no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts.
They only work with agents they know and trust will not waste their time. Agents who know what they can sell.
You have to find an agent to represent you. This is not easy but it can be done if you do your homework to find an agent who handles your topic.
Writers Digest is one place to start. It is published yearly and contains information on who accepts what and how to submit. You can also read this in the library.
Another source is the National Writer Union. This involves joining – pretty reasonable – and it will give you access to their web page and information on agents and everything you ever wanted to know about publishing. They also hold classes in different cities on contracts and negotiation. Worthwhile investment.
Zero in on several agents who handle books like yours and write them a dynamite query letter. Include your “platform” (read that people who know you) on how you can publicize your book. Mention your connections with groups, any speaking you have done and stats on a successful blog you author. Offer to send them a few chapters of your book.
Then wait. They do not answer quickly. Write a few more letters to other agents.
You will get rejections. Don’t be discouraged. It does not mean your book has no merit. It means they don’t have a customer for it. If anyone responds asking for a “reading fee,” ignore it. Reliable agents do not ask for money.
Be wary also of the Vanity Presses who will charge you a fortune, do nothing much to help you – and you will end up with 2500 unsold books in your garage.
The main reason you want a publisher to print your book is their DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM – to get your book in stores. Most distributors will not be bothered if you have only one book.
You might also forget any fantasies about glamorous book tours. Unless you are someone like Wayne Dyer, publishers will spend little money on you. Forget the Carrie Bradshaw episodes from Sex and the City when she was promoting her book with fancy parties and travel. By the way, her “platform” in that series was her newspaper column.
If your book is accepted by a publisher, they will expect you to do almost all your own publicity.
You may decide to publish your own book. There is something about the thrill of holding a book with your name on it. It is the greatest high.
Or will you be happy with your book in a digital format like Kindle?
There are many self publishing programs. Some of the good ones are Createspace and Kindle, which are affiliated with Amazon. Some of my author friends and I have used them with excellent results. They are “print-on-demand” so you don’t have to put a lot of cash out. You pay by the book.
The advantage of self-publishing is you keep the money you make and do not share it with an agent. The disadvantage is again, distribution to book stores.
Amazon owns Createspace for publishing paperback books and Kindle, which is taking off like a rocket and outselling paperbacks with their digital design books. They sold over one million Kindles a week in December 2013.
They operate like two different companies. And they are almost FREE.
If you want to publish a paperback book, make a new email you will only use with them and sign it with it to https://www.Createspace.com.
The advantage is that you can have them print your book and order copies as you sell. Do your research and pay attention to the format they require to print your book as a paperback.
For publishing on Kindle – if you already have an Amazon account which you have used to buy books or merchandise, sign in with your regular account and scroll down to the bottom to access Kindle information. Or you can go directly to their webpage which is https://kdp.amazon.com/ They will ask you to sign in with your regular Amazon account information.
It looks as though Amazon is taking over the world of publishing now. I am using both Createspace and Kindle to publish my books and their service is excellent.
The programs require some technical ability. That is not me, as I have admitted often. But after a time and many mistakes (which they excuse) you will figure it out.
If I can do it – you can. There are many manuals on it and their websites are very informative.
Once you get the hang of the two different systems, you will become a publishing genius. Almost. When they turn down your manuscript, they tell you what was wrong so you can go back to your original word copy and fix it. Since it is all automated, there is no one to tell you how stupid you are. Nice feature. Your new upload replaces your old one.
Couple of handy tips that I learned when writing on either Amazon products because I didn’t know better.
1. Write in word
2. Don’t change typeface in the middle of your document. Avoid Times New Roman. ( No, I don’t know why)
3. Don’t use much bolding or caps, especially on Kindle because it has a small screen.
4. Make sure you include page breaks or it will all run together.
5. You might start with Kindle as Amazon will format it for you.
6. Createspace is a little more difficult because you will have to set size of book, margins and something called gutter. Took me many drafts to realize this was the space between paper pages. Try .375 if your book is under 150 pages. They are really nice about helping you, by the way.
7. Buy my book. Best for you as a beginner if you get the paperback. It’s easier to go back and forth. Lots of information. It’s reasonable.
8. All you have read here is useless if you don’t write your book.
HAVE YOU STARTED YET?
IS IT SITTING ON A SHELF IN YOUR CLOSET?
WILL YOU GET IT OUT AND PUBLISH IT?
This is an excerpt only