Today we will give a walk-through explanation on how to get a book published. With several different paths to choose from, deciding exactly how you will go about getting published can be seen as a challenge comparable to figuring out the right way to say what you want to get across in your book. The varying methods can vary with different levels of success. You can see a similar spectrum for success in the music industry with an artist performing at a local coffee shop or getting signed to a well-known record label.
The kind of book you are trying to publish is important, but not as important as the platform you want to be on and with whom you are trying to peak interest. The difficult part is understanding the pertinent details involved in the execution. It can have little to no likeness to your experience with writing the book itself. You might find that it seems like a science and it can overwhelm you, but remember you don’t have to master all paths- you just need the one that works for you.
We will lay out the paths by main categories of publishing options and follow each main category with a breakdown of the finer details to help make it easier for you to connect the dots. It will help you to remember that if you are looking for a chance to become a national sensation, you will have to acknowledge the business side of things. This is especially the case if you are going to seek a literary agent. One more thing should stay with you throughout this article and your adventure with publishing; be realistic with your expectations. Chances are you will need to put your nose to the grindstone even with initial success. So, don’t go into this thinking you are going to be a millionaire getting widespread fame and movie deals. Even though this has sometimes happened (i.e. Hunger Games) and is an incredible experience for those who got that lucky, the simple truth is, hitting it that big is a near zero chance of happening.
How to Get a Book Published
Method 1 – Traditional Publishing:
If your book is salable enough, the traditional method is most likely the best bet for you. The downsides of this approach can be harsh, such as the difficulty of finding an agent who sees your book as a marketable product (see the next section). That being said, the benefits of traditional publishing can be helpful for first-time authors. On top of that, if your first book is a success you may reap much greater rewards through this method in your consequent literature. Knowing the legendary success of J.K. Rowling is enough inspiration for pretty much anyone to seriously consider this route.
Benefits of the tradition method:
- Upfront advancement usually between $1,000 to $10,000 for new writers
- Costs such as editorial, copyedit, marketing, etc. will be covered by the publisher
- Your publisher can get you national distribution into bookstores nationwide
- You might get reviewed in some newspapers – but probably not a whole lot
- A big publisher will get you into digital platforms as well
- As rare as it is – if your book turns into a movie it will be due to a big publisher
You will want to pursue the traditional method if:
- If you want the glory of a publisher backing you
- Do not want the hassle of learning and executing all the necessary marketing
- Have the patience for slow turn around (can be up to 2 years)
- You would rather someone take control of the business reigns
- Compatible with the middle-men (Literary Agents)
After understanding the type of book you are trying to publish, you need to figure out if a literary agent is a good idea. If you already know that you don’t need an agent, you can skip this segment, but if you are unsure you might want to read a bit further here. Remember, just because you can’t get an agent interested doesn’t mean there are no publishers who will consider doing business with you. If you figure out an agent is the right way to go, you will first want to think about how salable your book is in its current state. If you think you need to make adjustments to your book, do so first. Since the agent is the first of several steps to getting published by a big company, you need to sell them your book as though they were a prospective and critical reader at a bookstore. In other words, if an agent doesn’t think they can get decent sales, then they aren’t going to pick you up regardless of the quality of your work.
You can utilize online resources such as the WritersMarket to help you with finding an agent. Make sure you try to seek agents that work within your genre. It should help a great deal if you can find agents who like working with new writers, and aren’t overloaded. You really should use a service such as Agent Hunter. They will help consolidate all relevant information such as Twitter, likes and dislikes, and photographs about agents. Don’t be afraid to apply your intuition either. Remember, you may need to seek multiple agents at once and may need to reach out to a dozen or more in total. When you approach an agent, make sure to hand them a well-crafted 500-800 words synopsis of your book (the plot).
You will need an agent if your book is:
- A novel
- A piece of regular nonfiction
- A guide on a popular subject
- A creation for children
An agent isn’t useful if your book is:
- Going to be published by you
- It is a compilation of poetry
- A piece of Journalism
- An or multiple short stories
- Isn’t salable
Method 2 – Digital Publishing:
The great news about digital publishing is pretty much anyone can achieve this, unlike traditional publishing. Amazon won’t charge you to upload your work and can distribute your work worldwide. This is an obvious and substantial change for authors, who in the past would have struggled to get their work out. Books such as Silent Child (Sara A. Denzil) and Beach Lawyer (Aver Duff) are just a couple pieces of solid evidence that this is a workable platform. Don’t forget E L James who got picked up from Random House after her digital success.
Things to know about digital distribution:
- No advance payment
- Your book won’t get into bookstores
- You won’t get much 3rd party coverage
- No external support for marketing
Digital publishing is for you if:
- You have an entrepreneurial spirit and can do all the marketing yourself
- Great with computers and navigation
- Your genre is Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Crime, or YA fiction
Method 3 – Self Publishing:
Though this method can be considered outdated, it is still possible. With no publisher, all costs are going to come out of your pocket. Do not do this method if you are trying to attract publishers with an initial piece, use the digital method instead. If you go this route, you must be very careful who you do business with. There are companies out there good for this method, but not all are ethical.
What it takes to Self-Publish:
- You must pay for a service to design & print your literature
- You may need to have a fair number of books produced (usually 500+)
- Marketing will be completely left on your shoulders
Self-publishing is good if:
- You want friends, family, and organizations to read your work
- You want to accomplish creating a full product of your literature
- You’re not trying to make money and are focused on the artistic side
- You are trying to record the history of your family into a cherishable format
This was a breakdown of the different methods of getting your book published. We included a breakdown of certain aspects of what you should expect in each path. A quick review: You need to write a good book for large scale success. You want an agent if you are going mainstream. Also, you will want to have reasonable expectations of what can come from going that route. Self-publishing is more like an art project.
While digital publishing is a great way to bring attention to yourself with little up-front costs and still has a chance of becoming lucrative on its own. Now you should be able to take the initiative and get your work out there more easily!
Thank you for reading. Please comment if you have something to add, and good luck.