Getting Published [Tips on Finding Readers, Self-Publishing & More]
Are you an aspiring author, looking to get published? So is my friend Suzy, who inspired this post. She's almost done with her novel but has no idea what to do next to get it published.
Luckily, these days there are more resources than ever for getting published and self-publishing your fiction and non-fiction books.
I reached out to a few different friends who have gotten their books published, either through traditional means or by self-publishing.
Below you’ll find their tips and advice for aspiring authors, as well as additional resources for those who are working on getting their written work published.
Here are my thoughts on publishing. I've never self published, but I think I would next time based on my experiences with a major publishing house.
Expect the following from a publisher:
- It's a long process. Usually 1.5 years, or 9-12 months if expedited.
- Most people don't get an advance, so you'd be working "unpaid" until after publication. Advances themselves don't usually come before you start working, but in lump payments throughout the process, so many people have to keep a regular job while working on their book.
- Royalties are usually only around 7% of sales.
- It's really tough to sign on with a publisher. Usually you have to get an agent to sign on to your project first, then they shop it to publishers. There are many tutorials online about how to write and prepare book proposals for agents and publishers.
- The publisher does a lot of the work for you, which is nice (design, editing, publicity/promotion) and they have established connections and networks that work to your benefit.
- A LOT of people will have their hands in your book and want to make changes.
- Having an assigned publicist is probably the biggest benefit to using a publisher.
- You can work at your own speed, but you're responsible for everything (design, editing, promotion).
- Upwork (formerly Elance-oDesk) is a great place to hire out help with those tasks.
- You keep 100% the profit, as opposed to a 7% royalty.
- You will have complete control of the content.
- It's a good option for people who already have a big following or reach because you'll already have a big audience and exposure without extra promotional effort.
- It's a good option for smaller books or publications with a really small niche market. Small projects don't necessarily need a team of people to make it happen.
In conclusion, I'd self publish unless it was a huge project because being paid 100% of profits for your hard work is a LOT different than 7%.
For the past six years, Beth has been dishing out healthy, inexpensive recipes and teaching kitchen basics through her popular blog, Budget Bytes and the corresponding cookbook, Budget Bytes - Over 100 Easy Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half. She loves getting creative in the kitchen and hopes to show others just how fun and rewarding cooking can be.
Self-publishing with Amazon
Amazon has become a leader in the self-publishing world, and they offer lots of tools and resources for wanna-be authors.
Interested in selling e-books? You can publish your digital book for free with Kindle Direct Publishing. You’ll have to potential to reach millions of readers through Amazon’s Kindle platform, and you will earn royalties of up to 70%.
If you want to create a print edition of your novel or non-fiction book, you can independently publish with CreateSpace.
You can even create an audiobook with Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX).
If you’re self-publishing, congrats! You’re taking control of your own literary destiny, sharing your work with the world and positioning yourself to reap excellent financial benefits for doing so.
The great thing about self-publishing is there’s no barriers. Anyone can self publish. That’s also the downside: ANYONE can self publish. Your self-publishing journey is all about setting yourself apart. The best way to do that is by publishing a book of outstanding quality.
I’m already assuming you have a manuscript in hand. First and foremost, the manuscript should be the best damned thing you can write. You should write, revise, write and then revise again. Then hand the whole thing off to a group of trusted readers. Family and friends are good first choices, but can be biased in your favor. Online communities like AgentQueryConnect and Wattpad are ways to network with other writers and gain feedback.
Once you’ve gotten feedback from a handful of early readers, incorporate what resonates with you and/or makes sense. Then clean it up, grammar-wise, to the best of your ability and hire an editor. Hire an editor. HIRE AN EDITOR. Yes, I just repeated that three times, in violation of Strunk and White’s first rule of good writing: Omit needless words. (Do you own The Elements of Style? You should.)
But that emphasis is warranted! For a book to be competitive on the literary marketplace, it has to be as good as what small and large presses are publishing. They ALL hire editors. Prepare to shell out hundreds to thousands of dollars for this service, depending on your manuscript’s length and who you hire.
There’s also a hidden marketing benefit to hiring a stellar editor: you can use the positive parts of their feedback as book endorsements. If you go this route, be sure to ask the editor for permission to quote him or her before you plop the blurb on your book jacket. Most will be happy to comply.
TOP REVIEWED BOOKS ABOUT MAKING A LIVING FROM YOUR WRITING
Want to make a living doing what you love? (And I'll assume in this case, what you love to do is writing.) Check out these top-rated books on Amazon:
- Check out Wattpad.com as a way to crowdsource feedback. Major publishing companies monitor it to see which stories go viral, and several authors have picked up contracts without even having to send out a query letter.
- Start building your platform as early as possible.
- Make sure that you create an actual author page on Facebook rather than using your personal page. When you’re famous, you’ll appreciate the privacy. ;)
- Once the book is out, be sure to take time to create author pages at Amazon Author Portal, GoodReads, Manic Readers, Book Riot, Shelfari, etc.
- Remember that social media isn’t for selling but for building relationships. Think about what the people who would enjoy your novel are interested in and focus on sharing that with them. If you publish enjoyable posts, they’ll remember your name and your branding without promoting yourself non-stop. M.J. Rose, a paranormal romance novelist, does a great job of this.
- Please do not do that auto-DM thing on Twitter. I’ve got a hundred authors that I intended to support, but the minute I start getting inundated with automated messages, I’m done. On the flip side, when anyone thanks me for following them by name, meaning they actually took the time themselves, I’m won over.
- According to Mark Coker, SmashWords founder, the highest grossing authors offer at least one book free.
- Invest in an attractive, professional cover and a thorough editor.
Autumn Ware supports her writing habit through her New Orleans-based business Aware Copywriting Services. She pens novels about ninjas, poets, stray cats, and teen hackers as a hobby.
MORE RESOURCES FOR ASPIRING AUTHORS
- Free Guides For Authors [BookBaby]
- How to Write a Bestselling Book This Year — The Definitive Resource List and How-To Guide [Tim Ferriss]
- How to get published: 8 authors share their stories [Natasha Lester]
- Advice To First Time Authors [Michael Hyatt]
- 8 Tips From Literary Agents About How to Get Published [The Write Practice]
- How to Get Your Book Published [Jane Friedman]
Have you published a book?
If you have additional advice, please share your tips for getting published in the comments below, or reach out: hello @ missmalaprop.com
Are you an aspiring author?
Do you have more questions that aren't covered above? Please email me and I'll try to track down the answer for you!