There is a lot on this subject, so I’m only isolating one aspect of it for this entry. I will post more about the others later. This entry is on traditional publishing.
So, there is a difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Traditional publishing is having one of the publishing houses publish your book. Self-publishing is giving you the control over publishing your book.
Now, this relates to the route you are personally going. If you are writing a book based on local history or for a certain type of topic / people that would only draw minimum interests, then I would suggest the self-publishing route. However, if you want to go with a wider market, then the traditional publishing is the way to go.
- Slow – on average a year and a half from the time you sign the contract until the book is available
- Share the profits
- 99.9% of the time, you need an agent
- Locked into contracts (read the fine print!)
- Free editing, design and marketing
- Paid in advance (majority of the time)
- Wider range of distribution channels
- No upfront costs
Traditional publishing is harder to crack into. You’d think with all the books available on the market that it’s a free for all, but it’s not. This is my understanding of the process, or at least in the U.S.
- First off, you need an agent to speak with the traditional publishing houses. There is a very slight chance that they may talk to you directly, but most won’t even look at you if you don’t have an agent. There are different genres that an author really needs to pay attention to. When you seek out the agent, make sure that they FIT your genre. (Make sure the agent is a legit agent – no upfront costs. They get paid only when you get paid.)
- Then you submit your queries to the agents or give pitches to the agent at a conference. Then it’s a waiting game on if they are interested. If they are, they’ll requests the first fifty pages or your manuscript just to look at it. Then there’s another waiting span on if they decide to sign you or not. If they don’t like you, go to the next agent. There’s a bunch out there, so keep looking.
- When / If you get signed, then the agent takes the manuscript and has an editor go over your book. There are probably multiple revisions done before the agent starts pitching your book to the publishing houses.
- There is another waiting span of time before a contract may be offered. This is where you need to READ the contract. Pay close attention to the percentages of profits and the additional editions / revisions the publishers may hide in their fine print. (One example is that a author may get 75% (not actual figures, just an example) of the profits from the first printing, but the next printing the author may only get 25% – so they’ll print only 500 books in the first run, then 10,000 in the next to give themselves more profits.) Your agent is your go between. If there is something you don’t like, tell them. They are being paid to get what you want.
- More revisions are done to your book, then jacket designs, blurbs and so forth. This is also the time to watch your publisher. If they aren’t doing what you expected or agreeing to the contract – then cut ties and go back to your agent to start over again with the next publishers. Don’t expect a million dollar book deal. It’s possible, but too high an expectation to be realistic, especially if you’re a first time author.
- Finally your book is available. But that’s not the end. Now is the marketing. You need to market your book using your platform, book signings, giveaways (however many copies you can afford to give away), interviews, and whatever else your publisher has plan to market the book.
- During all of this, you should still be writing your next book. Don’t ever stop writing.
I’m still currently in the step two stage with the agency reviewing my first fifty pages, so I’m not knowledgeable on the rest. I’m on week five out of my eight to nine weeks wait.
L. R. Mauck