How do you get published? That's a question I found my self asking over and over again. I had this book, this amazing idea that I'd actually managed to finish, but... now what? How do I get my word document into a published book?
It's hard. And frustrating. The market for book publishers has changed so much in years it's hard to know where to even begin. Do you publish traditionally, with a big publishing house? Or do you go it yourself and self-publish?
Honestly? I don't know.
Not the answer you wanted, right?
That's because the market is so varied and so large now. There isn't a simple answer to this question. God, if only there were, trust me. I wish. The best I can say is how I did it. And the mistakes I made so you can avoid them.
I published my book, 'Shadow's Voice', first with a publisher that was calling themselves and Indie Publisher. First thing first. What is an Indie Publisher? They are also called Hybrid Publishers. Basically, you front some of the publishing costs, but they use their publishing and corporate connections. You keep the rights to your work. Usually, this also means most of the marketing is done by you. Be prepared for that, because it's a lot of work.
Now, the first publisher I worked with...well turns out they were a sham. Which leads me to lesson number one: DO YOUR RESEARCH.
Make sure the company you're giving your money to is an actual reputable company. Turns out the place I worked with was a glorified printer press. They said they did editing. They said they worked with marketing. They told me they used the two major distributors in the country. Turns out, they did not. There was no editing done on my manuscript and a week later I was told it was being printed. You can imagine the mess that was. A rough manuscript going to print after the most basic of editing? Yeah. It was mortifying.
Make sure you research the company. Check the reviews on their other books. Check out their cover art. Google their name and see if they show in the first page of results. Ask the authors how they liked working with them. Make sure the money you're going to pay is worth it.
Which leads us to lesson two: You're going to put out your own money.
This isn't always a bad thing. My new publisher (who I love BTW, so I clearly learned from the above lesson one) is both a hybrid and a traditional publisher. Their traditional arm publishes mostly memoirs and the hybrid publishes a myriad of other genres. When I submitted my manuscript to my now publisher and was accepted, I had to pay some decent money for my end of the deal. A lot of people hear that and think, "well...you're paying for it so you weren't really accepted. They'll take anyone." No, if it's a reputable publisher that simply isn't the case. They screen the submissions and make sure the bones of the manuscript is something worth working with. While you're paying for some of the costs, you're not covering NEARLY as much as they are.
This is how I think of it.
I paid for the editing. And it was GOOD editing. The editor that was assigned to me was great and I hope to work with her again. I put out good money for great editing that turned my book into something professional.
And at the end of the day I keep the copyright, which would never happen with traditional publishing.
The hard part? Marketing. Hands down.
I'm not good at it; I don't have the head for it. Depending on the publisher, the level of marketing aid will vary. The common factor is that you will be responsible for the majority of it at some point. If that's something you don't want to deal with, for whatever reason, then stop here. Indie publishing is not for you. That's part of the trade off from traditional publishing. You have to put in a lot of work.
I won't lie. I still haven't figured out all the marketing. Blog tours are a huge part of it. Reviews, word of mouth, and local press. It's a game of finding and keeping fans. Gaining exposure. And the all elusive, sale. When I figure that out thought, I'll tell the secret.