When I studied archeology I came across information about a stone tablet written in cuneiform. The text was lamenting the way the world is getting worse, and one of the things mentioned that showed that the “end of the world was fast approaching” is that everyone wants to write a book. Well the world has not end in the past 4800 years, but everyone still wants to write a book, or in the case of the world today, release an album, make a film and so forth.

For today, let’s concentrate on those who want to write a book. Until recently, to get a book published usually meant going to a publisher. There has been self-publishing for years, but it cost tens of thousands of dollars, at a time when new cars were under $10,000. You would have to pay a printing company to print every copy of your book, and some people still self-publish this way, but there are many other options now.

Let's discuss what type of publishing you should go for - doing it yourself or going through a publisher.

Traditional Publishing
Traditional publishing is when you send your manuscript to a publishing company who prints your book.
  • Traditional publishing is great if you can get it, it can be difficult to get a contract and usually requires an agent to send in your work.
    • Agents are almost always required.
  • You usually will get no more than 25% royalties on sales of your book, and your agent will get 10% or so of that.
    • Royalties are paid once or twice a year.
  • They set the price, even for eBooks, which may mean fewer readers.
  • Expect at least half a year before your book hits the shelves, or online shops.
  • They publishing company will make some of the decisions for you.

The great advantage of having traditional publishing is that the publishing company covers everything
  • They print the book, and format it as an eBook for sale as well.
  • They get cover art done for your work.
  • The company will handle advertising your book.
  • And, they get it into stores for you.

Traditional publishing also covers publishing stories in magazines and compilations. Without an agent it is possible to get started this way, but a lot of writers do not want to go this route once they find out that they will not make thousands of dollars on it. Although best selling authors can get up to $0.50 to maybe even $1.00 per word, do not expect to get more than $0.10.

More and more writers are self-publishing these days.
  • Since there are more self-published writers you may get drowned out by all the others out there.
  • It still makes up a small portion of the published material.
  • You have to cover all the cost/do all the work.
    • Editing.
    • Getting a cover.
    • Advertising your book.
    • If you want it in stores, you have to go directly to the store and convince the owner/manager to place your book on the shelf
  • However, you do get something in return for doing all the work.
    • The royalties can be as high as 70%
    • and they pay out every month with most Print on Demand companies.
    • You have control over the price of your book, and the eBook.
    • You do not need an agent, just the will and a finished book.

Self-publishing gives you much more freedom to do what you want with your book. The cover is your choice, how it is advertised is your choice. But you will want to get it edited. You may be inclined to get a friend to do it for free, and were getting them to give you feedback on the story is great, you will want to get a professional to edit your book. We got a chance to speak to RJ Cavender who has been editing for 20 years, he is an Associated Member of the Horror Writers Association and a former editor at the Editorial Department. He pointed out, not just because he is an editor, how important editing is. First, it is not just spelling and grammar, more importantly, it is picking up on writing styles, avoiding repetitive word use (for example using the word “said” in each line of dialogue in an entire story). A poorly edited book has been the downfall of not just beginning writers, but it can even cause problems for long time writers. But be careful, if the price seems too good to be true, chances are it is. If someone says they will edit your entire novel for $20, watch out. At the same time, be careful that they do not overcharge you. Most editors are going to give you a per word, or per page rate. As with anything, check the credentials of who is editing your work. And if you do not have an agent do not let an editor submit it for you, you will want to handle that yourself. Once again, with traditional publishing this is taken care of, but with self-publishing you will need to cover the cost.

There are many options out there for Print on Demand (POD) self-publishing companies, and many of them provide services, such as cover art and editing if you wish to pay for them.  here are just some of the POD self-publishing options out there:

You may want to give J.A. Konrath’s blog, or a similar blog, a look for some insight into self publishing. And you can use this checklist to get ready to self-publish. Good Luck and Good Sales!

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