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How Do I Get My Book
So you've finished your manuscript, packaged
it up and sent it out to every publishing house and
literary agent you can find a listing for.
You wait the obligatory several months for the replies to
come in, hoping that one of them will contain a contract
for your book - along with a hefty advance cheque and a
promise of heaps of royalty payments for years to come!
Does that sound like a favourite day-dream of yours? I'm
guessing it will be for most people reading this article.
It's why you're here after all.
The unfortunate truth isn't quite so appealing.
Recently, a member of the Fiction
Factor Forum asked the question: - "How
do I get published?"
The easy answer is: Find a publisher willing to pay
you for putting your book into published form. I'm
guessing that's not the answer you're looking for.
I'm assuming the real question is: "How do I
find a pubisher willing to pay me to publish my book?" That answer
is more difficult.
According to Writer's Digest, less than 5% of the
estimated total number of manuscript submissions are
published at all.
Of that 5%, only 15% of manuscripts accepted are for
Not very promising for a new author, huh?
There is no bias within publishing houses or literary
agencies against publishing new authors. Quite the
opposite. Agents and editors hope to find a new rising
star, one in which they can build a promising backlist
and boost sales.
Why is it so few new authors manage to get a foot into
the traditional publishing door?
Most editors and many agents will tell you the
predominant reason for rejecting any work - from new or
established authors alike - is simply poor quality
The other major factor which detemines whether a book is
published or rejected is the marketability of the novel.
After all, if there are no sales, there's no profit and
no one gets paid.
Publishing is still a business.
how do I get my book published?
Before you can submit your work anywhere, you need to
have written a great story that a publisher will want to
Look over your manuscript carefully, then edit your words
so your story gleams at a professional, publishable
Learn all you can about strengthening your writing
skills. Make sure your characters jump off the page and
grab your readers by the collar with how vivid they are.
Read what other authors are writing and learn how their
stories are crafted.
Remember - an editor will happily reject a manuscript
that is poorly written, regardless of whether the author
is a professional or a complete beginner. Make your
manuscript stand out from the rest of the slush pile.
but how do I find a publisher?
Basically, there are plenty of ways to locate a publisher
and get your book published.
Here are just a few suggestions.
you can get an agent to represent
you can query the editor directly
you can buy a copy of the Writer's
Market and submit your manuscript directly to the
publisher (for those that allow this)
you can try a 'small' press instead
of a huge publishing house
you could self-publish
you could e-publish
The choice is yours, of course. Some writers
will only ever be happy aiming at the very biggest,
highest paying publishers. These are also the hardest to
get into. (Incidentally, these are also the toughest on a
new writer's career). Agents are no longer easy to get
representation from these days.
Self-publishing is something I would only recommend for
those writers who already have a solid background and
training in business.
The next thing to consider is "which publishing
house do you aim for?" Most writers want to see
their names alongside the industry best-sellers. That's
natural. Those same writers also want to see the same
huge publishing houses releasing their books and offering
the same huge advances on royalties.
1: Let's choose Random House for this
example. If an editor at Random House decided to accept
your book and publish it - you'd be thrilled! I'll bet
you can think of 100 good things about being accepted by
Random House all on your own, so I won't list the obvious
Let me point out some not-so-good points instead.
Random House is HUGE. As a first
time writer, you would receive a very tiny
advance and a 'small' print-run (around 5,000
Publishers work on the
"sell-through" rate - meaning that you
would need to sell around 4,000 of those 5,000 to
see another contract
Because you are a 'small writer' -
they would spend ZERO time and money on promoting
your book. It's all up to you.
The 'shelf-life' of a book through a
large publisher is around 3 months. You need to
promote and sell 4,000 (minimum) books in 3
months, or the bookstores can and will return
unsold copies to the publisher and ask for a
If you don't sell the minimum amount
of books that they require, they can ask you to
pay back the advance.
Royalty payments on sales are
usually around 8-10% of sale price.
Not so pretty, huh?
2: Let's look at a really small (but
reputable) print publisher for our second example. We'll
call this publisher "Dragon Moon Press". Are
you thinking a lot of negative things about this example
Would you be willing to trust your writing career to a
publisher you've never heard of before? You won't be able
to tell anyone you know about your GREAT book deal,
because they won't have heard of your publisher either.
So why would you consider this small print publisher for
your prized manuscript?
Here are some good points:
Dragon Moon is only small. The
writers they have might only sell an average of
1000 books each. When that 1000 is sold, the
publisher may print more and so on... So, to a
smaller publisher, a new writer with a print run
of 5,000 would be HUGE. The author would be
treated like their own in-house Best-Seller.
A small publisher would be keen to
help a promising writer to sell more work - so
their promotional efforts will be greater and
their advertising will be aimed at helping to
increase sales - thus helping the writer's
The 'shelf-life' of a book through a
small publisher is for as long as you want!.
Bookstores can't return copies to publishers who
print using On Demand technology. They have to
You don't have to pay back any
advances - usually because you aren't paid one.
Royalty payments on sales are
usually around 10-30% of sale price.
A bigger publisher will be very
interesting in an upcoming author who can show
high sales via a small publisher - and may even
want to offer you something bigger and better!
And then there's the option to e-publish.
Many writers are reluctant to publish books digitally.
Ebooks are still going through a stage of trying to
develop some kind of credibility among the thousands of
scam sharks releasing four pages of crap bound as an
'ebook'. Admittedly, epublishing is still in its infancy,
but it doesn't look as though it's going to go away any
sides to e-publishing include:
People assuming no one else would
publish your work
People assuming a real print
publisher wasn't interested in publishing your
People assuming your work must be of
a sub-standard quality
You can't hold a digitally published
book in your hand - or curl up in bed with it at
Many people still don't trust buying
But there are some positive sides to
You create an audience in countries
you probably wouldn't reach with print publishing
You can increase sales globally by
having an effective web-site
You can show future editors and
agents that you already have an established
audience for your type of work
The royalty payments are usually
larger (from 30-60% of sale price)
There have been some (only a few!)
authors who were 'discovered' after publishing an
(e.g. MJ Rose sold more than 2,500 ebooks (Lip
Service). A big publishing house heard this and
offered her a nice contract to publish it - and
several of her subsequent books, too. Douglas
Clegg released ONE horror novel as an ebook
download (Purity). He recorded more than 80,000
downloads. The rest of his novels are in print
and he's growing in popularity quickly. I guess
that one download also introduced 80,000 people
to his other books...)
These ebook success stories are rare.
Although I'm sure I could find more success stories with
a simply search, I can only think of two off the top of
So - I hope that gives you a bit of an insight into
getting your book published. You have plenty of options.
Your decision comes down to which publishing avenue you
would prefer to take.
And please, PLEASE remember - NEVER pay
someone to publish your work. A publisher PAYS
the author - never the other way around.
Copyright Lee Masterson. All rights reserved.
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