Publishing a book is every writer’s dream. In fact, some writers do not even feel like writers until they have actually published a novel. The truth is, if you’re writing, you’re a writer, regardless of how many book sales you have under your belt – a million or none. The difference between published authors and aspiring ones is just luck. However, you cannot just write your novels and sit on your hands, waiting for that luck to find you. You have to take your publishing journey into your own hands and start doing the work you actually need to do to get published.
Today, there are two routes you can take: traditional publishing and self-publishing. Within the first route – traditional publishing, ideally, the publishing house takes on all of the publishing tasks, of which can be many. In the second route, all of the publishing tasks will befall on you. In this guide, we will cover all of the basics for both traditional and self-publishing.
We hope this beginner’s guide to publishing a book will help you achieve your dream of publishing your novel, regardless of which path you choose.
Table of Contents
- Part 1: Traditional Publishing
- 1) What is traditional publishing?
- 2) Pros and cons of traditional publishing
- 3) What to expect from a traditional publisher
- 4) How to search for a book publisher
- 5) Tips for sending manuscripts directly to a publisher
- 6) When and why you might need a literary agent
- 7) Being aware of vanity presses and partnership publishers who pose as traditional publishers
- Part 2: Self-Publishing
- 1) What is self-publishing?
- 2) Pros and cons of self-publishing
- 3) eBook publishing and print-on-demand publishing
- 4) How to select self-publishing platforms
- 5) Tips for producing a high quality self-published book
- Part 3: Marketing and Publicity
- 1) The differences between marketing and publicity
- 2) How the way you publish (traditional or self-publish) can impact marketing
- 3) Tips for marketing your book
- 4) When you might need a book publicist and tips for hiring one
Part 1: Traditional Publishing
Traditional publishing is the dream for most writers. They don’t really know how and when their book will get published, they just know that they have to wait for a publishing house to pick up their novel and put it in bookstores around the world.
Traditional publishing has recently gained even more weight because we live in a digital age and everyone with a bit of computer skills and an MS Word can publish a book on Amazon, for example. To have your book picked up by a traditional publisher is the dream – for what bigger proof do you need to know that your book is worth reading?
However, not everything is what it seems in traditional publishing, and there are many things you should know before taking on this route.
1) What is traditional publishing?
In essence, traditional publishing seems very easy. You send a query letter to an agent, and then that agent tries to get a publishing house to pick up your book. All you would have to do, ideally, is find a good agent and write.
What it really means is that, agent or no agent, a reader in a publishing house will read your manuscript. While having an agent means your manuscript gets direct attention from the publisher’s side, some publishing houses accept manuscripts submissions without an agent. These are commonly called unsolicited manuscripts, and go into a slush pile with many other unsolicited manuscripts. Then, a reader goes through the slush pile. The reader may have liked or disliked your novel. Sometimes, if the publishing house has refused to pick up your book for publishing, you might not even get a rejection letter. However, if the reader liked the novel, they would pass it on to an editor, who may or may not reject your book. They may contact you with changes you need to make in order to get your book published. However, until you get an offer for the rights with a contract at hand, nothing is really certain.
2) Pros and cons of traditional publishing
There are many pros and cons to traditional publishing, and both should be taken into account when you’re making a decision on which way to go – traditional or self-publishing.
The pros include:
- You get a contract and an advance;
- After your book is published, you get royalties after the advance has been paid in full;
- Royalties are money paid to the author, a certain percentage commission from the sales of the author’s book;
- You get a professional editor to help you make your draft into a publishable book;
- You get a professional team to take care of marketing, publicity, and production design, such as designing a cover that doesn’t look like a kid played around in Photoshop;
- You may be contracted to publish several books, especially if you are writing a series;
- Your novel gains instant credibility because today, anyone can self-publish a novel.
The cons include:
- Your publisher may want you to make significant changes in the story, so much so that it barely resembles what your book is about;
- Your publisher may have bought the rights to your characters, your series, your novels, and then may fire you from writing your own novels and get a ghostwriter to continue;
- You may stumble upon a vanity press posing as a traditional publishing house (more on that below);
- Your novel may not make enough sales, threatening everything from your livelihood to your confidence as a writer;
- Your publisher may have bought too many rights over your work, not just printing rights, but audio, film, foreign publishing, etc. In other words, your publisher may end up with the power to make a movie deal without even consulting you, because you’ve legally provided them with the rights to do so by signing the contract.
3) What to expect from a traditional publisher
We’ve already covered some of the things to expect from a traditional publisher. In essence, a traditional publisher should take care of the publishing process for you. When the publisher buys the intellectual rights to your book, they will offer you a contract. Make sure to read that contract from start to finish. In fact, try to get an intellectual rights attorney to go over the contract with you. It’s always good to get legal advice when you sign a contract with a publisher, because you may end up legally obligated to things you didn’t really want.
If the publisher gets printing rights to your book, they get to decide for how long your book will remain in print, which can range from several months, a year, or more, depending on sales. For example, if you pick up a book and it says fifth or seventh edition on the cover, it means the publishing house has printed a certain number of books (hundreds, thousands), five (or seven) separate times over the years. After the publisher decides to stop printing your book, ideally, after a period of time, the rights should revert back to you, which means, even if your publisher doesn’t want to print your books anymore, you can find another publisher or publish the book yourself.
Each publishing house functions differently, and they’re the ones that decide which rights they want to buy from you. What you should expect, and should be spelled out in a contract, include:
- The type of rights the publisher is buying from you: printing, audio, foreign, even movie;
- The type of rights over the rest of your intellectual property: titles, characters, names of series, novels, content, etc.
- Intended formats of publication: hardback, trade paperback, mass market paperback, electronic, audio and more.
- Print run, royalties, and an advance.
Let’s elaborate on these three, due to their connection. Let’s say that you get a contract for your book. Your book will have a print run of 1000 copies. The type of print is trade paperback. The average price of trade paperbacks is around $13-$14. You’ve been offered 10% royalties. This means that for every book sold at $14, you will make $1.4, and if each and every copy sells, you’re making $1400 total. The advance you get from the publishers is usually 10% of that, so, you’re paid $140 as an advance. (Note: the numbers used in the example are explanatory only and your personal experience is bound to differ. We put a print run of 1000 copies to make the math easier, not because 1000 is an average print run number).
4) How to search for a book publisher
Once you know what you can expect from a publisher, it’s time to begin the daunting task of finding the right publisher for your book. Please note that even if you do find what you believe is the perfect match, you might still receive a rejection letter. Here are some things to watch out for:
- Make sure the publishing house or publisher actually publishes books in your genre, if you’re writing fiction, or niche, if you’re writing non-fiction. Some publishing houses publish exclusively fiction, or non-fiction, others specialize in different genres: literary, science fiction, poetry, drama, romance, paranormal romance, and so on.
- Make sure the publisher is interested in the manuscript that you provide, in the sense of location and reach. For example, do not send an unsolicited manuscript (without an agent), if the publisher does not accept unsolicited manuscripts in the first place. Or, if the publishing house focuses on a local reach, do not send them a manuscript if you are not within said local reach.
- Third, and most important, do not get lost when searching for a publisher. There are many online resources and yellow pages that list many different publishers. Some of these online resources are free, some are premium, and some list only publishers that are local to New York, for example. In other words, if you reside in Europe, write in English, and have your eyes on a New York publishing house that is interested only in solicited manuscripts from the within the US, do not waste your and their time by sending them an unsolicited one. In addition, when it comes to online resources, do not waste your time on a resource that focuses only on science fiction publishers, when you want to publish a romance novel, for example.
- Some of the online resources include QueryTracker, Ralan (which, incidentally, focuses on science fiction, for example), then Poets&Writers (if you’re writing poetry and literary fiction). There are many more, both online and in the library and your local yellow pages (depending on where you live, of course).
- Do not get discouraged: it might be difficult to find the right match, and as we mentioned before, you might get a rejection letter even if the publisher is interested in publishing books in your genre or niche. This doesn’t mean that you should give up. Just keep writing, and have as many eyes as possible on your writing and your stories, listen, try to get constructive criticism, improve, and try again.
5) Tips for sending manuscripts directly to a publisher
We will talk about literary agents later in this section, but before that, let’s talk about sending unsolicited manuscripts directly to the publisher you’ve chosen.
- It’s important that the publisher does accept unsolicited manuscripts, first and foremost.
- Second, make sure that you follow their guidelines on how to submit your manuscript. We live in the digital age, they might be asking for an electronic summary and a few chapters, or they might be asking for a full manuscript.
- If you don’t follow the guidelines, you will give them the impression that you didn’t really read through said guidelines, and as such, your book might not even get a glancing look, even though it might be a hidden gem.
- It’s like sending a cover letter for a job you’ve coveted – make sure that you know what you need to send them and what they want to know from your part (manuscript, summary, synopsis, only a few chapters, etc.)
- Familiarize yourself with the current standards for formatting, word count, etc. In case the publisher you’re sending the manuscript does not have official guidelines, you should be familiar with the standards, because that will make you look more professional. So, do your research on font, word count, and other details about submitting manuscripts to publishers – in your specific genre. Please remember to search specifically for your genre. The rules for romance are different from the rules for fantasy, science fiction, and so on.
6) When and why you might need a literary agent
There are two instances in which you might need a literary agent. The first instance is when you wish to approach a publisher that does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. The second is when you want to have a literary agent who will be making proposals even as you’re writing your book. The second case can be useful for non-fiction, however, it can work for fiction as well. Getting a good agent to sign you on definitely increases your chances of your book getting published traditionally, however, just because your chances are increased, it does not mean that your success is guaranteed. Meanwhile, you have added to yourself the task of finding a good agent.
What a good literary agent should and shouldn’t do
A good agent will:
- Based on your query letter, ask to read your book;
- Offer you a contract to represent you – in other words, sign you on
- Put you in touch with other authors they’ve successfully represented without missing a beat
However, before you send a query letter to an agent, do your research well. And even afterwards, a good agent will NOT:
- They will not ask you for a fee to read your manuscript
- They will not ask you for a fee to “read your manuscript first before others because they have a huge slush pile”
- They will not ask you for any money before you’ve been signed on by a publishing house
- They will not refuse to put you in touch with other authors they’re representing or have represented in the past
- They will not offer you a contract where they are set to make more than 15% of your domestic sales and 20% of your foreign sales (if the contract goes up to 50%, that’s a very clear red flag)
- They will not refuse to offer you a representing contract unless you pay them for their time. Literary agents make money after they’ve sold the rights to your book to a publisher.
For that reason, do your research well. Some of the sources we listed above for publishers can also serve as resources for agents. However, there are other resources online where you can seek out your agent. Please make sure, even before you send them a query letter, that you’ve found the best person for the job. The agent should be interested in your genre, your novel, and your work. If at any point, the agent does not show enough interest, you would be wasting your time by signing a contract with them.
On the other hand, once you’ve found what you believe is a good match, feel free to proceed to send them a query letter.
Tips for sending query letters to literary agents
- Do your research first. The agent might accept query letters only, or they may also accept blurbs, outlines, a summary, or sample chapters.
- Proceed to write your query letter, during which you ensure that you follow the right guidelines for writing one.
- In the first paragraph, begin with a short blurb of your book, and make sure it’s gripping and interesting. Specify the genre and themes of your novel, the word count, and put an emphasis on the fact that you did do your research and that you’ve chosen them because you know of their publishing history.
- In the second paragraph, focus on your book. Write a short synopsis that focuses on the plot and the characters.
- In the third paragraph, introduce yourself very briefly, but do not forget to list your official experience: previous publications, awards, and more.
- In the last paragraph, let the agent know that a detailed outline and sample chapters (and even the whole manuscript if needed), will be available to them upon request. At the end, thank the agent for their time and for considering to represent you as an author and your book.
A word of advice: never settle for one agent or for one publisher only. Try to find as many matches as possible (in terms of genre) and, after careful elimination, send your query letters to at least a few different agents.
After that, there is nothing that you can viably do but wait. Agents do not appreciate being pestered for feedback or for a response – and neither do publishers, regardless of whether they accept unsolicited manuscripts or not.
7) Being aware of vanity presses and partnership publishers who pose as traditional publishers
What can a vanity press do for you?
In essence, and at a first glance, it appears that using a vanity press is just another form of self-publishing, or even traditional publishing. A vanity press will offer you the same services as a traditional publisher – with the difference that you pay them instead of them paying you an advance and later on, royalties.
However, when you dig deeper you will discover the following: you pay the vanity press to publish your book – and get your rights to your intellectual property. They will offer you a deal that includes editing, cover design, ISBN paperwork, and even distribution to booksellers via different channels. However, the problem here is that the vanity press owns the ISBN to your book, and the rights as well, so you might not even get a dime from the actual sales of your book. The same applies for partnership publishers. They will offer you a contract where these facts are cleverly masked – and you will probably not catch these miniscule differences in wording that will get you conned by them without a lawyer specializing in publishing and intellectual property.
In other words, if you really want to publish your book, but cannot find a publisher or an agent, go for self-publishing, and stay as far away as possible form vanity presses and partnership publishers. How to know the difference between a vanity press and a traditional publisher? If they ask you money up front for anything related to publishing your book, and if you don’t get a contract that specifies and advance and royalties, know that you’re dealing with a vanity press and do not sign any kind of contract with them.
Part 2: Self-Publishing
Writers decide to self-publish for many reasons. Some writers have already been traditionally published, and they might already have a vast fan base. In this case, when they want to experiment or try something new that the audience may or may not like, they go for self-publishing.
Then, there are writers who’ve never been published before, but have been rejected many times, and they decide that self-publishing is a much better option than just sitting around, waiting for a miracle to happen.
This, however, doesn’t exactly mean that self-publishing is easy – although it appears incredibly so on the first look. Let’s take a look at what self-publishing really means.
1) What is self-publishing?
Self-publishing is when a writer decides to publish his or her own books and novels. Today, self-publishing is very popular among both authors who have been traditionally published before and newbies as well. What it means is that the author undertakes the process of publishing, and covers everything from printing (if they are publishing printed copies and not just eBooks), to the cover, the formatting and typesetting of the novel, the editing process, marketing for the book, and many other tasks, like getting an ISBN for the novel, and more.
It means pretending to be a publisher, in essence, and for some writers, this is not an option as it takes away a lot of time that ideally the writer would spend…well, writing.
For this reason, writers often self-publish copies that are not edited properly, have a stock image with a dash of Photoshop on it as a cover, and the typesetting and formatting would make a decent book editor cry and pull on their hair. In other words, often, writers do not have the time nor the knowledge to pull off self-publishing a book and making it look professional.
On the other hand, there are plenty of success stories: of writers who self-published their own book, which garnered attention from a publishing house, and then ended up being traditionally published anyway. And those are the lucky ones.
Today, there are so many books that have been self-published, and writers do not even have to cover the cost of printing the book, especially with the recent development of the POD – print on demand – service, which enables authors to make only as many copies as they need.
2) Pros and cons of self-publishing
There are pros and cons to self-publishing, just as there are pros and cons to traditional publishing.
Let’s look at the pros first. They include:
- You get to keep at least 70% of what you make, depending on the self-publishing service you’re using;
- You do not depend on a reader, or an editor, or an agent to like your book;
- You will control everything about the process, and your story as well;
- You will publish your book faster than if you were publishing traditionally;
- Your book will remain published until you decide to remove it from listings;
- You have all the rights for TV adaptations, film adaptations, comics, audio, etc.
However, there are negative sides to self-publishing too. The cons include:
- Your book will need a professional editor. Although you might do it yourself, a professional editor will help you when it comes to structure, voice, dialogue, and a lot of other details, big and small, that you’re viable to miss, especially if you’re a first timer.
- You should hire an illustrator for a good cover, and good illustrators are not cheap.
- You might need to hire a publicist, a lawyer, and other people whose services you get automatically, without paying anything, when you’re traditionally published.
- As a result, it might actually cost you more than you initially thought it would.
- You would have to run your website and social media sites, to try to generate more attention and make more sales.
- Most self-published authors report a feeling of running a small business, and most of the time focused on marketing and raising publicity for your novel or book, rather than writing.
- Your book gets less prestige from the start. Self-publishing seems so easy that anyone could do it. In the world of today, a book that’s been traditionally published automatically has better reputation and the readers are more apt to think it’s good. Not so much for self-published novels.
- You still depend on luck, even when you self-publish.
- You will have to learn all marketing tricks around the sun and invent new ones, because all of it will depend on you.
- You will have limited distribution channels, which are especially important if you are publishing your book in print;
- You do not have the same outreach as a traditional publishing house. While you might have the foreign rights to your novel, it doesn’t mean that you have the outreach to sell these rights.
3) eBook publishing and print-on-demand publishing
There is a slight difference between eBook publishing and print-on-demand, or POD, as it is commonly called. Let’s take a look at their differences.
When you’re publishing an eBook, you can go to the online retailer or servicer of your choosing, like Amazon, for example. Amazon is the biggest platform for self-publishing eBooks, but there are others as well. When you’re publishing an eBook, the process ends with the digital publication of your book. You will have to provide a manuscript – or, your book – in a certain format, be it PDF, epub, mobi, depending on whether you’re publishing for Kindle only users or want a wider outreach. You would get your ISBN, which, if you’re publishing via Amazon’s CreateSpace, you can get for free. The ISBN is a number that connects a book and its publisher, and you need to have one to self-publish your book. Then, you need to follow the guidelines of the platform you’ve chose in the formatting of your book, the word count, the price (often depending on the number of words), and you’re the one that has to provide the cover and take care of all the other details, especially of the marketing aspect. However, once you’re done and hit publish, your book will be available on Amazon almost instantly.
POD works a bit differently. Amazon has their own POD, but there are other platforms that will offer POD through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and others. This means that you will have to provide almost the same things as when you’re publishing an eBook, mainly your manuscript in a certain format, an ISBN, and a cover, before everything else. Then, one your book goes live, it’s not available to buy, or in stock, just yet. It works a bit differently. For a certain period of time, your book will be in pre-sale mode. This period can be two months and longer. It’s commonly thought that a longer pre-sale mode allows you more time to rigorously market your book and promote it as widely as you can, so that your potential readers can pre-order your book. Once a certain number of copies are requested by potential readers, who have pre-ordered your book, the book goes in print and will soon have a status of in-stock on retailers’ websites. Then, when interest dies down, your book will go to out of stock status. This means that your original potential readers will receive their copy within 28-48 days and more, depending on different factors like sales, pre-sales, and the other ‘backstage’ factors of POD you won’t be able to control. However, do not discount the fact that the out-of-stock sign next to your novel on retail websites will discourage potential readers, especially if they’re disinclined to read an electronic version.
On the other hand, once you have an electronic version of your book, it’s good to get POD for it as well, regardless of your marketing plans for your book. As previously said, some readers prefer hard, or paperback, copies of books, and some are even willing to wait the necessary time until they have said copy in their hands.
4) How to select self-publishing platforms
There are many different self-publishing platforms out there, and yes, Amazon is the most popular one, and the easiest one to use if you’re a beginner. However, here are some things you should check before you sign up on any of them.
- Check their formatting guidelines. Each platform will have different requirements for publishing, especially if you’re including print versions.
- Check their royalties rules. Amazon offers a different percentage for royalties based on the price of your book, which as a first timer might be as low as $2.99, which means you’ll get barely 30%. Also, check the payment of royalties and when you can get them, some platforms wait for a certain number of sales, or money, before you can get a check or make a wire transfer.
- Check their distribution channels. Amazon, as the biggest one today, has plenty of distribution channels, both online and offline, which is important if you’re printing physical copies, however, there are others that will give you access to markets like Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and more.
- Do not waste your time if you hit a snag. Some books are difficult to format for e-publication, especially if they’re non-fiction books that include tables, images, and other charts. In this case, you might want to hire someone who can do it for you, but beware, because this type of formatting can be out of most people’s skillset.
5) Tips for producing a high quality self-published book
How to publish your book and make it seem like it was published traditionally?
We’ve already mentioned some tips, but here is what you need to do.
- Professional editing and proofreading: if you’re confident in your skills, feel free to do this yourself. If you’re doing it yourself, get yourself some good books on structuring a book, editing description and dialogue, catching repetitive words and phrases, and most importantly, discover and eliminate plot holes (if you’re writing fiction), before you publish your book.
- Proofreading: try to get a beta reader. A second pair of eyes never hurt, and you might even be able to get beta readers for free.
- Format your book by the standards. Some self-publishing platforms do not care for the standards and will allow you self-publish a paperback via POD even if your book formatting is not up to the usual standards of font, typesetting, page numbers, etc.
- Get a very good cover. Or at least a decent one that will not look unprofessional. Can you do it by yourself? Depending on your skills in digital illustration. If you feel like dedicating the time you could use to write to create a perfect cover, then go for it. If not, consider hiring a good illustrator or get a book cover designed for you from a platform online, like 99designs. Keep in mind that even the best illustrator, whom you’ve paid a lot of money to, might not be able to create the exact cover you’d had in mind, so try to relay as best as possible what you are going for.
- Have a long term plan. If your plan is to get noticed as a good writer, make sure you put in the demanded effort into your book. If you do a little research, you might find authors online who claim to publish as many as four books in one year. However, it remains a question mark as to how good these four books actually are. Whatever you publish online, unless you remove it, will remain there, a mark on your professional resume. It depends on you whether that mark will be a good or a bad one. So, do not cringe at spending a lot more time on your book than you planned in order to make it a good one.
Part 3: Marketing and Publicity
When it comes to marketing and publicity, it doesn’t matter if you’re self-published or traditionally published. If you’re self-publishing, your sales and success will depend directly on marketing and publicity. If you’re getting published traditionally, your publisher might not put enough effort into it. Publishing houses sometimes do not have the resources to market your book before it’s published. This is true for both big publishing houses, which might put in more effort in marketing their “established” authors, who already have fan bases and make a lot of sales when they release a new book. On the other hand, a small publishing house might not be financially able to make a good marketing campaign for your novel.
For these reasons, you need to remember that these days, authors have to care not only about the books they’re writing, but also about marketing and publicity as well.
1) The differences between marketing and publicity
All of the activities that you, as a self-publisher, or the publishing house, undertake to generate more sales of your book, fall into the line of marketing. In simple terms, market a book means to research the potential audience, and place carefully crafted advertisements where your potential audience can be made aware of your book and enticed to buy it.
Publicity, in the meantime, envelops all the activities you or your publisher will do to control the public image of yourself as an author, and your books.
For example, let’s say that you’ve published a romance novel and have been relatively successful. Now, you want to try your hand at science fiction. Since your established audience liked your romance novel, there are high chances that they will also like your science fiction novel. However, in this case, you’re crossing genres, and since your author’s name has already been connected with romance, your readers will expect you to keep writing romance. Many writers, in this case, choose to publish under a pseudonym. For example, when J.K. Rowling decided to write books about a detective, she used a pseudonym.
2) How the way you publish (traditional or self-publish) can impact marketing
As a rule of thumb, when you get published traditionally, it will be the publishing house that takes over marketing. When you’re self-publishing, you have to take care of everything yourself, including marketing. This means that either you will spend some time learning marketing strategies, discovering which marketing strategies will fit your book, and then see how much it will cost, or you will hire someone to help you with these tasks. Both options can be very costly, especially if you’re hiring someone. Good news is that you can hire companies to take care of everything for you at a fee, saving you some time.
Remember, traditional publishers have whole marketing teams that are dedicated to the marketing of your book, and these marketing teams have contacts and a network that they can use to generate attention, both on and off social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads. When you’re self-publishing, you will not have these contacts and that kind of network, and you also have cover the cost of advertising. So, think carefully before you decide to self-publish.
3) Tips for marketing your book
It’s important to market your book if you’re self-publishing. In that case, here are some of the things that you have to do:
- Create a website and a blog
- Create a mailing list for news
- Create professional profiles on social media (your personal facebook profile will not do for this, neither will your funny Instagram account)
- Create an author’s page on Goodreads
- Try to get more followers on social media
- Investigate your audience, wherein you discover:
- What your audience likes and expects
- Where they search for new books (Amazon, Goodreads, social media, or the local bookstores)
- Where should you place your adds for maximum visibility (Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads, etc.)
- If you’re publishing on Amazon, offer your book for free for a limited time
- Once you have an established audience and followers, create author’s giveaways, or run contests where the winners get prizes (books, advanced chapters of upcoming books, and other trinkets, which can be bookmarks, stickers, and more)
- Ask popular reviewers if they would like to read and review your book
- Ask your readers to leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads if they liked your book.
If you’re getting published traditionally, you will be able to do most of the above, however, you might not be able to offer your book for free to generate more sales. Still, you can create contests and giveaways, both on your website and other platforms. You can use social media to generate even more attention, especially if your publisher cannot afford an expensive marketing campaign for your book.
4) When you might need a book publicist and tips for hiring one
If you’re just starting out with your first book, chances are you may not need to hire a book publicist yet. The reason why is because even book publicists have to start somewhere – they cannot be your marketer or publisher for you. A book publicist will ideally help generate public attention towards you as an author and your book as the newest good thing in the market. However, publicists can be a great investment for you if you’ve already established yourself as an author and now need an amplification to improve on what is already (hopefully) a good image.
However, do not hire a book publicist if you:
- Cannot really afford them and expect them to work for sales percentage (book publicists are not literary agents)
- Are virtually unknown and have not put a single word or publication out there.
Take it slowly, and be persistent. If you feel that you already have a good basis to stand on, then, you may consider hiring a publicist. Here are some tips on how to recognize a good book publicist:
- They have previously worked in your genre or niche;
- They have basic publicity plans that you could modify together to suit your book’s needs;
- They will provide you with basic publicity material they’ve done for other clients;
- They will have a network of contacts in the industry and in your genre and be able to get you author’s interviews, TV and radio programmes, and other;
- Offer you full disclosure of results, even if the publicity activities are not yielding ideal results.
Just like with a literary agent, you have to be able to trust your publicist, and to trust that they’re doing their very best to help you achieve your goals and get more attention towards your book.
Publishing a book is hard work, no matter how you look at it. Getting traditionally published can be an exhausting experience with many rejection letters before one publishing house decides to pick up your book.
On the other hand, self-publishing is so much harder – while you sit and wait and maybe write two or three more books while you wait for your book to be picked up and published, once you decide to self-publish, you may spend so much time in production, marketing, promotion and distribution, that your next book might not happen for years.
Or, you may not want to spend too much time on marketing and promotion, just want to publish as many books as you can. Some authors manage to put out a short book every month or two on Amazon, but even readers know that good material takes time to write.
In conclusion, before you decide which way you will go, map out what you want to achieve as a writer. If you want literary recognition and a Pulitzer, for example, work on your craft until you get published, because self-publishing rarely leads to literary recognition and awards. If you want to put your book out there, no matter what, then go for self-publishing. But, before you self-publish, make sure to research and do your homework, and do it right. Your first book, even if it’s self-published, will leave a permanent mark on your career as an author, so make sure to do the best you can when you self-publish.
Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As a screenwriting student, she is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, watching a film or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her own.