If you’ve published anything in the last few years, you probably have lots of people asking you how to “get published”. If not, it probably seems as simple as trying to paint the Mona Lisa with both hands tied behind your back if you don’t have a place to start.
Well, the best way to get your work out there is typically indie or self publishing as most traditional publishers are not always interested in unproven authors, and if they are you’re manuscript is likely to be buried in the slush pile for an indeterminate amount of time. Unfortuantely, that is just the way it seems to go unless you are part of the lucky few that end up in the right hands early on AND you show some amazing promise. I know, we all think there is something unique and promising about that manuscript we’ve been lugging around for the last month, year, decade….but the truth is, many a great manuscript get lost in the slush pile, too.
So, you might be thinking, “So, it’s a lost cause?”
Of course it’s not! If you have a little knowledge, a lot of determination and imagination as well as the time getting a book published is really not a difficult task. So here are some tips that should help you get started. (In no particular order)
- Know what you’re goals are – Do you want a book to share with family and friends or are you looking to put your book in the hands of the masses?
- Be careful where you try to save pennies – a plain cover and poor editing may or may not be okay to pass off to your family and friends, but it is most definitely a huge mistake if you plan to share your book with the masses as they will likely hurt your sales in the long run. If it looks like you didn’t spend a lot of time on the cover, the genreal assumption will be that you didn’t spend enough time on the book itself.
- Do your research – free publishing may sound great, but keep in mind if it’s free, you will most likely be taking on the editing, formatting and cover design duties yourself. No matter what you do, those elements take time and are rarely a part of any low budget option, and be sure to shop around for those services no matter what choice you make for publishing. Often times, publisher’s charge top dollar because it’s convenient to get everything under one roof so to speak, but it doesn’t mean it is better than @proofreaderMG or @Muggai for example(a proofreader/editor and a cover designer on twitter, FYI). In fact, I’d be willing to bet both of them would be considerably more affordable and just as good or better than what is available through the publisher. Some publishers will give you the names of freelance editors and designers, etc. if you ask, too. They know the services can be found elsewhere at a lower rate and it is in their best interest for you to have the best quality book you can make, too.
- Contact literary agents if you like – But, you don’t have to have one for most indie publishers to take you seriously and self publishing is typically not something that would require representation. Most, but not all traditional publishers require a literary agent submit the work and will not take unsolicted manuscripts though.
- Check out other authors in your given genre – This can help you see what sells, how they create their ‘sales pitch’ summary, what the best price point is and more. Be warned though, if you are a first time horror or thriller author, for example and you price your book to match Stephen King, you will probably have a tough time selling at the same price. You can always change the prices later, but once you turn a customer off for something like that you may never get a second chance at the first impression (This goes along with point 2, also. Customers tend to remember the book with non-existent editing and they tend to forget the author with the photoshop image or plain background with block letters on the cover.)
- Be sure that your ebook is formatted properly – Page breaks in the wrong places can be distracting and make an otherwise good quality read look poorly thought out. You can find people to format your book all over the web (elance, twitter, etc.). Often times publishers and editors will help with that, too. And even Fiverr has gotten in on that action (though I will caution, you may get what you pay for…I have not personally tried fiverr for this type of work.)
- Don’t be tempted to edit your own book – It is simply not possible to objectively pick apart your own hard work, and honestly after you read through it once you tend to blind yourself to any flaws, and for the sake of your personal relationships, do try not to put this task onto family or friends. While they may be willing to do it, not everyone is capable of being honest enough to be effective when they care about you or are concerned about how long this grammatical error will land them on the couch.
- Read, Read, Read – I am convinced that the best writers are also avid readers. How else will you understand what your readers are buying and how you stack up against the authors at the top of the heap in your genre?
- Socialize – One really great way to find out what’s working and not working both for your own marketing and that of your peers is to seek them out and have a chat. Twitter and Facebook are great places to do this. You can try Goodreads and Shelfari, too. And it’s also a great way to meet and find new authors that you might enjoy reading, as well as connect with your readers!
- Remember that people’s views are subjective – Know that at some point you are going to get some negative comments or remarks. Just try to take them with a grain of salt. No one is immune and sometimes, the words can hit hard. But, never fire back at a nasty comment or review. You can’t control the thoughts and opinions of others, but you don’t want to fuel the fire as it very rarely benefits the author. Instead, try to take the comments into perspective and see if you can’t possibly address the concerns (perhaps they found editing errors, or something simple), and if that isn’t the case then move on knowing you did the best work you could and not everyone will understand or appreciate that work. My dad always says, “Don’t dwell on the things you can’t control or change, just focus on the path in front of you.” He’s a very wise man, my dad. And he’s always been there to give me that reminder whenever I forget, which I do. Often
I hope that this helps you on the road to becoming a published author and that you enjoy the adventure as much as I have. Feel free to stop over here or check in with me on twitter if you want to share your thoughts or have questions. My Twitter handle is @LoucksKE
Happy writing and don’t forget to enjoy yourself!