The more friends I make, the more I discover people who have a need, a burning desire to write, to express themselves, and to be published.
Although I don't think I've arrived yet, I see that I've come a long way ahead of some of these friends, and so I'm eager to pass on tips and advice to make things easier for you - assuming you are one of these new friends.
First, let's name some the options for publishing your book.
This is where you find an agent or seek out a publisher who will invest in the printing and promotion of your book. The publisher bases this decision on the marketablity he or she sees in your work, for his company has to make a profit too.
You are normally not expected to invest anything, but nowadays, authors do have to prove they can get out there and meet the media and public as part of the campaign. If you plan to hide out in your computer room and just keep writing, you'll almost certainly be turned down.
In fact, with the state of the publishing world as it is, you have to have one fantastic world's best seller, if you don't already have a famous name, for a publisher to take a risk on you. They can't afford to gamble much any more.
This route also means that it can take 9 months to two years for your book to go through all the stages of approval and design and finally get to the bookstores.
This is a very viable option now with all the new trends in publishing. A bright author, committed to her book, and willing to put the time and effort into it, can produce a very handsome book, and promote it far better than any traditional publisher, who is only prepared to advertise it for 4-6 months. (If you aren't a hot potato by then, they drop your books into the Remainder bins, and you are done).
Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual for one, has helped many authors go through the steps and produce a very professional book, which they promote enthusiastically themselves, and much longer, and better.
You can form a publishing company, arrange for a printing company to do your printing order, whatever number of copies you can afford, and then you do your own publicity and marketing, and even order fulfillment, or shipping. Or you can sub-contract parts to other professionals.
Yes, there are costs involved. In both time and money. But it's a good option for certain authors who are not afraid of work.
This is a method of self-publishing. There are companies who offer to do everything for you, but they charge you well for that! It is still a new technology, though it has been around longer than I've been on the internet. In fact, it was self-publishing that drew me to get a computer and start learning new skills in 1999. So it has been around more than 23 years. Now I'm gearing up to produce lots of e-Books next year, 2023!
POD is when you make a contract with a publishing-front company or a printer directly. If they accept your book manuscript they put it all typeset into their big computer at the printers, and when an order is placed online, that computer can print and spit out a copy of your book, and bind the cover on too, in about 3 to 5 or 8 minutes! Everything is streamlined so the book can go out in the mail to the customer that same day. (Since they give their staff the weekends off, they say in their advertising that the books are out in the mail or courier within 48 hours. That's in case you ordered it on the weekend).
You may set up to process all the orders yourself, and simply pass them on to the printer at the end of each day, or, as I do with BookLocker.com, you can let the publishing company handle the orders, and you just drive the customers to that special web page to place their orders.
This method of self-publishing has less upfront costs to get started, but the royalties you get are less than if you had invested in the large print-run and then stashed several hundreds or thousands of books in your garage to sell. (Which means you have to become an expert marketer and sales person).
Though I've appreciated the way my POD contract finally-FINALLY got my novel out there in the public, I've wised up to the idea that I really need to raise about $15,000 - 20,000 after all, to do a good print-run at about $3/ea. So I make a larger profit. - However, I can still do that. I'm not locked in with BookLocker forever. When I can afford the other approach, I'm free to take it. (Watch out! Some POD companies say in the fine print of your contract, that your book is theirs for three years!)
This is the area of eBooks, e-books, or Ebooks. (All spellings seem to be accepted on the Internet). These are not paper books, but totally digital documents, which can be downloaded like software, or a game. They can be sent as attachments to an email, they can be whipped up fast, and stolen even faster. But they do have a place in today's publishing universe. A place that is only likely to grow larger.
Why might you want to publish an e-book?
Because - it gets information out there fast. Non-fiction writers love it the most because how-to and hot information ebooks sell like ice cream. Fiction readers are much slower to take to it. They cost next to nothing to produce, if you understand web design/writing. They can be used to attract customers to your paper, or hardcover editions, and they can be peppered with ads and links for things you want readers to go see on the web. If their computer is online while they are reading it, one click, and whee-ee, they arrive at any web page you want them to visit. Your e-book connects them to the whole world! Either to your website, or one where they may purchase a product, from which you'll get an affiliate commission.
And that's not touching some of my favourite reasons for liking e-books. I love the colours and graphics I can add to the web pages which are the essence of the e-book pages, and also that I can enlarge the font of the text, when I'm reading one, so that it is much easier on my eyes.
At first, all you really needed was the skill to design basic web pages, and a Compiler software program, which you can get for about $39.95. (But I'm not even offering a link to such a site, as this method has become passe - old-hat - or a dead-doornail.)
Today you can write your book in your favourite word-processing program, ask someone to proof-read it for you, make corrections, insert images if you want, and then export (or save) it as a PDF file. Voila! Your eBook is ready to sell!
I would just advise that you check into how to make the download link private so that hackers cannot download it for free without you having a clue - then they sell it as one of their own!
The main drawback, as one woman pointed out when I was preparing my novel into an e-book, is that you can't read an e-book in bed or in the bathtub. Well, now with all these PDA gadgets and eReaders that are available, that is even possible. Just not common place yet in the bathtub.
These are the words that experienced authors and publishers say with that dill pickle tone of voice. :) Like they're, sour, distasteful, vulgar, somehow. That's because so many naive writers longing to be published have fallen for the ads of these unscrupulous companies that promise to publish your book for say, $2000 - 20,000. Turns out they print a dozen or two handsome copies, send them to you, and then nothing more happens. They over-charged you for a box of your books, just to stroke your vanity.
Now, if you merely wanted 36 copies to hand out to your children and grandchildren, and if money was no object, and if you got the full order you paid for, then there's nothing to be upset about.
If you are a smart author, you'll do your research homework; set up your own publishing house, get your book produced attractively, print as many as your market research says you can sell, and go out there and promote them with pleasure.
In this current day of oceans of free information on the Internet, you can be as broke as me, and manage to publish your book yourself. With a little help from the friends you'll make along the way. I hold myself up as an example. (You'll find the history of my publishing saga all over this site, on pages like the history of my publishing saga.
Right now I'm still in the marketing saga, and learning all the time. But let's talk about that on another page.
I'm also eager to give advice if you ask more specific questions. The purpose of these pages are to deal with the larger picture, and the various options.
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