Welcome to a week long blog series to kick of #NanoWriMo from Novel Publicity Bloggers!
By Jack Joseph / What does it mean to be published? Especially, in an era where anything you post online is technically your published work, where is the line drawn between professionals and hobbyists?
The simple answer to this question is if you are getting compensated for your work, and you own your words (or have legally sold them to another entity), then you are participating in the more traditional and familiar publishing world. However, even within the more limited scope of “traditional,” there are a few distinct ways that you can be published, all of which have their advantages and disadvantages.
Often thought of as the “easiest” way to get published, it is not necessarily the case. Just because you can log onto Amazon and have your words available to the masses does not mean that they will become popular. In fact, publishing yourself is fast becoming a game of “who can get the most views on social media.” Fortunately, or unfortunately, when you publish yourself, you also have to look out for yourself. To make your book successful without the support and resources of well-known publishing houses is hard. Often your only channels of communication to the public are through social media, and even then there is so much metadata that your words can quickly become buried.
Besides, the intention of a book is to pull a reader in. It doesn’t work to push something somebody doesn’t want. This is, however, the approach that many people take when they self-promote on social media.
It is important to remember, though, by using purely social channels to advertise your works, you are effectively alienating a great portion of the population who does not use these mediums, and the people who do use these avenues are often too young or too uninterested to appreciate literary works.
In truth, Twitter is not there to sell books in 140 characters, Instagram is not being used to search new titles (even if you put an artistic filter on it), and Tumblr is not a community that should be used as a spectator sport for literature. Remember, half the battle of being published is the marketing and promotion that a book receives.
Publishing yourself without being dependent on anyone also has its advantages. DIY books are booming. According to The Guardian, in 2013 18 million self-published books were purchased by UK readers, and the numbers are only continuing to grow. So, while this is far from a bad publishing method, if you go this route be sure to differentiate yourself on social media from those who use social sites for purely social reasons.
Independent Publishers and the Big Houses
There are also more traditional methods to approach publishing, and these are through the publishers themselves. Although the self-publishing market is continually growing, using the tried and true method is still the simplest and quickest way to having your work available in print. If you elect to pursue this route to have your copy published, there are five basic steps that you must follow.
Step 0: Read
Without reading, you will get nowhere. Where else will you learn how words can be crafted and contorted to do your bidding? Books are the genesis of inspiration and ideas. After all, that is why you are writing in the first place, right?
Step 1: Write the Book
Another obvious step. Without a book, what are you trying to publish? While it is technically possible to begin searching for an agent when you only have an outline and a few chapters finished, it is in your best interests to have your entire novel on hand so that when you are asked to present it, you are able to offer it right away. Otherwise, you may find yourself scrawling out a manuscript in record time, which could really take the fun out of writing.
Step 2: Prepare a Letter of Inquiry and a Proposal
Today, few publishers will be happy to see an unsolicited manuscript come across their desk. Therefore, it is your job as a writer to interest them enough to request your novel. To do this you must first provide a query letter. Along with your query letter, you should supply a synopsis of your novel, as well as an introduction of yourself as an author. While there are differences if you are pitching fiction versus non-fiction, the basic principle remains the same.
Step 3: Find an Agent
Getting an agent to represent you is like finding your own personal marketer. They will help send in your proposals and make sure that you have everything in order to make the perfect pitch. Agents are good to have if your book has potential commercial success, because they can generally get your novel looked at much quicker and negotiate bigger advances for you.
Step 4: Get Solicited by Publishers
If you have an agent, this step is unnecessary. However, if you are trying to hack it on your own, you will need to submit your proposal to many publishers simultaneously. Why? Simply because it can take publishers six months to get back to you and, if you went one by one, it might end up taking you 24 years to publish your book.
Step 5: Submit a Full Manuscript
Finally, a publisher will ask you to submit a manuscript whereby you will send one in so that they can make sure that what you have produced is satisfactory, and they are interested in making your book available to the public.
As you can see, no matter how you decide to approach it, getting a book published is not going to happen overnight. Regardless, do not get discouraged. There are many people vying to get their books discovered, so it will take time.
Publishers have thousands of manuscripts to sort through before they can find one that is worth their investment. However, working with a smaller publisher has its advantages. They can help guide you and work with you to help achieve your goals. Plus, as a traditional publishing medium, they have the ability to market your work even after its debut, in order to help ensure your success.
About the Author
Jack Joseph serves as the e-commerce manager for Arcadia Publishing and The History Press. Jack oversees all direct to consumer business initiatives, e-book sales and web based projects from the Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina headquarters.
Jack joined Arcadia Publishing in 2013, and has served various roles in sales and marketing.
Jack enjoys anything outdoors especially if it involves the water.