Publishing for First-Time Authors
Author: Megan Jessop @megan_jessop
Finding the right publisher can help ensure the success of your book.
Most people have been taught the basics of writing: The sentence structure, grammar, spelling, how to string them all together to form a paragraph, then a page, and a chapter, and so forth. And as much as we like to dog on Millennials and our social media generations for believing that they can do anything with 140+ characters, we have to admit that there is truth in both the belief itself and in the fact that our age demographics (among others) behave in such a way that we’d think our words themselves were golden tickets to a better, or at least changed life. Don’ get me wrong, I am guilty, too. Even in this blog post, there is the belief that these words will matter and that someone out there will be changed, or inspired, or at least influenced in some way because of my words. But does that mean that anyone can write a book? The short answer is yes. Does that mean everyone should? That answer is more debatable and nuanced.
But let’s just say that you have written what you believe is the next Great American Novel. Now what? How does one go about publishing their very first masterpiece? This post should give you a few tips, tricks and resources to help you get your baby into the right hands and onto the shelves. As anyone familiar with publishing will tell you, publishing itself is a process. Starting with acquiring the book, copy edits, developmental edits, designing the cover, formatting the interior design, marketing the book, planning the book launch and related events, and so on. Most of that the publisher takes care of, but any reasonable publisher will keep the author well-involved. The first step—and the most vital—is to get your book acquired by a publisher.
There are a few ways that an author can go about getting their manuscript acquired. One option would be to self publish with a program like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. But unless you have the right connections and are willing to put a ton of time and money into your own marketing, self-publishing is not a recommended route. Another option along similar lines would be to submit your book to a hybrid publisher like Acorn Publishing in Medford, Oregon. Acorn Publishing functions like a traditional publisher but gives you the control of self-publishing. This route would give you the best of both worlds. However, there are not many hybrid publishers out there so it might be hard to get picked up by them. The other option is to go the route of traditional publishing. Most publishing houses or presses follow the traditional publishing model, as laid out above. They take care of most of the production and marketing and allow you to help make the decisions.
If you choose to publish your book in any other fashion than self-publishing, the next challenge is to find the right publisher. One that fits your genre and style of writing, your subject matter, and helps your vision of this book become a reality. Websites like Duotrope, Writer’s Digest, or even Poets & Writers can help point you in the right direction of publishers. Duotrope even helps you search by genre, writing medium, and free or paid submissions. You could also try connecting with a literary agent to help connect you with the right publisher. One perk of having an agent is that they can help fine-tune your manuscript and vet potential publisher’s and offers to make sure you’re getting the right fit. Agents act as advocates for you and your book so there can definitely be benefits to having one on your side throughout the publishing process. Duotrope can also help connect authors with potential agents. Most agents and publishers alike will require your manuscript, a proposal, or a query letter—if not all three in order to help figure out if they feel whether or not your book is the right fit for them. It is advised that you take time to look over the submission requirements for any publisher that you would like to submit to and work with to make sure your book meets those requirements. Doing so will save both you and the publisher valuable time in making sure your book gets into the right hands and the right shelves and into the right reader’s homes.
Fact: Tips, Tricks, and Resources for Finding An Agent or Publisher