1. gwrolls
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    gwrolls Member

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    How to even begin?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by gwrolls, Nov 16, 2014.

    Like everyone else here, I am in the process of creating a literary masterpiece (or something along those lines) and I'd like to have it published at some point.

    I literally have no idea on where to even start going about the publication process, so I was wondering, what is the best way to get in contact with a publisher? Or even how would one self-publish?
     
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you haven't finished the book yet, you have time to do research. I would suggest starting with "How Publishing Really Works", a blog by a trade industry professional who is also a supporter of self-publishers. Particularly look through the "publishing" tags. Loads of excellent links.

    http://howpublishingreallyworks.blogspot.ca/

    Basically, look at people who have the credentials to back up what they're saying. Avoid anyone who makes it sound too good to be true, or who hacks apart one method in order to make their case for the other. You want objectivity and facts, not evangelism or bias. Take your time, as I say, and if something just doesn't sound logical or reasonable, or you're at all confused about something, ask questions.
     
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  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    As shadowwalker said, you have to finish your work first.

    As you're nearing completion or along the way, you can research agents and/or publishers and even self-publication. Again, shadowwalker has some good advice to consider.

    Whether you seek an agent/publisher or self-publish the quality of your work will be a primary factor in its initial success.
     
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  4. Krishan
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    Krishan Active Member

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    I've found previous editions of The Writers' And Artists' Yearbook immensely helpful. It not only explains a lot about the process of publishing a book, but also provides listings of publishers and agents in the UK.
     
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  5. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's like learning to surf. As I said to the man,

    'but how do you get out to the big waves - way out there?'

    'You ain't ready for the big waves, boy,' he said. 'When you don't ask, then you're ready.'

    I trained, waxed my board until finally I was there, out amidst the maelstrom, but still I could not catch the waves, and tumbled in foam, alone. One day I snagged a big one, screamed from my lungs:

    "yes, yes, yes,"

    STILL NOBODY WAS LOOKING.
     
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  6. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    The big thing to remember is: don't pay anyone to publish your book.

    If you sell it to a publisher, they should be paying you for the rights, be it with an advance or just royalties as the books sell. If you self-publish, you'll be both writer and publisher, and will have some costs to pay when you have your publisher hat on (e.g. cover art). But don't fall for the companies who'll offer to publish the book for you for 'only $10,000!'
     
  7. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'll publish it for $5000 :cool: Seriously though, it's hard to believe anyone would pay to have a book published. Is that like vanity plates?
     
  8. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    Lots of people have and still do; there's a whole industry based around taking money from authors and printing books that will just clog up their garage for the next decade. That's one reason why almost everyone was against self-publishing fiction until a few years ago when ebooks made it financially viable.
     
  9. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's because certain companies offer package services, for example not just to print your book, but to have an editor look at it, or help with promotion and uploading it to various platforms. Other companies might offer to format your book so it's suitable for e-publishing across multiple devices and platforms.

    While it's true you can do all that yourself for free, it's always better to have the expertise. The trick is finding a good one that's actually worth the money and not just well, a shark lol. Also some people either don't have the time or the ability to figure out how to format it for e-publishing, as anyone who've been through self-publishing would tell you the hassle and blunders you come across when trying to format files etc and proof-read it and all. Other people prefer to pay a good price to save themselves the hassle, even if they can work it out for themselves.

    Of course, then some people say, well if you don't know how to do it, you should probably go for traditional publishing - eg. through an agent and publishing house, who will do all that for free with a team of experts.

    But for whatever reason, for some people, self-publishing is the better option, for example because the book falls under a very niche market or is too alternative to make finding a traditional publisher realistic. Others simply don't want the gamble of waiting forever and working so hard and your book may or may not ever get published, and then when it finally does, the publisher takes 80% of the profit and the agent take another 10-20% on commission. Still others prefer the full control and would rather pay for the expertise or even work it out all by themselves in order to have a book exactly as they envisioned it.

    For me I've ultimately chosen self-publishing because I don't like the gamble, and I'm not interested in trying to work out exactly which element agents might not like when I have nothing to go on. I'm all for editing and revisions, but if I don't know what to change and what to look for, I could be trying to fix what's not broken while the real problem lies unchecked. I might just be wasting loads of time until, finally, by some miracle I finally fix the problem. The reality that most readers don't care about excellent prose and would pretty much read anything as long as the story makes sense and is good is another factor. Look at Twilight and you see - readers don't care about quality much. I'll make my book the best that I can, but I've come to realise readers don't care about the perfect place to put a full stop, or if I used the word "red" or "scarlet". At the end of the day, I only care that readers like it. I don't care if I meet an agent's standards or not. And from the feedback I've had from 7 different beta readers, my book is perfectly good to read (and these are across the age spectrum as well as cultural backgrounds). I have faith in my product. So I'm pushing it out. If it sinks or swims, that's my business and a risk I'm happy to take. Even through traditional publishing, my book could still sink, after all. Basically, in my mind, you can't lose with self-publishing. Whether you put any money into it is a choice - self-publishing is perfectly doable completely for free. And just because you've self-published one book doesn't mean you can't go for traditional publishing for another.

    Basically, there are many reasons people go for self-publishing, and amongst those, many reasons why you might go for a vanity publisher. The trick in the end is research. If you pay for genuinely good services, I don't see why vanity press is necessarily a bad thing, and with research and reading up on reviews, and checking out the authors from those vanity presses and perhaps contacting their customers directly where possible, you'll be able to work out for yourself if the vanity press is just a scam, or worth your investment.
     
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  10. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Mckk thanks for the explanation. I don't know if I would trust someone that has a script or two for converting file types and can have a book printed to do editing functions, no matter at what level. For clarification, is a vanity publisher someone who takes your words, and binds them into a cool looking book with no consideration of whether those words are worth reading?

    Also, is it really that hard to compile the various e-book formats? I'm using Scriverner now and I see there are many options for compiling. I would think if you spend a couple of hours on YouTube and play with the options for a while, you'd be up and running.
     
  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    One should never go for a vanity publisher. They are, by definition, scams. There are companies and individuals who will help self-publishers with various areas of getting their books ready for publishing, and one has to research them just as they would any business they are going to business with, but they are not necessarily 'vanity presses'. (This is where freelance editors reside, for example.)

    Nor would I say that one "can't lose" by self-publishing. Your book, which could be a commercial success via the know-how and expertise of a trade publisher, could sink without a whimper because your knowledge of self-publishing (editing, marketing, formatting) is not nearly as good as you think it is. (You = generic) Yes, trade publishers take a big chunk - but they're taking the big financial risk, including the advance paid to the author regardless of how the book actually sells. And yes, the agent gets a commission - but they find the right publishers, help negotiate a fair contract, explain all the options, etc etc.

    There are trade-offs no matter which method one chooses for publishing - but no method is a "can't lose" proposition.
     
  12. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    One should never go for a vanity publisher. They are, by definition, scams. There are companies and individuals who will help self-publishers with various areas of getting their books ready for publishing, and one has to research them just as they would any business they are going to business with, but they are not necessarily 'vanity presses'. (This is where freelance editors reside, for example.)

    Nor would I say that one "can't lose" by self-publishing. Your book, which could be a commercial success via the know-how and expertise of a trade publisher, could sink without a whimper because your knowledge of self-publishing (editing, marketing, formatting) is not nearly as good as you think it is. (You = generic) Yes, trade publishers take a big chunk - but they're taking the big financial risk, including the advance paid to the author regardless of how the book actually sells. And yes, the agent gets a commission - but they find the right publishers, help negotiate a fair contract, explain all the options, etc etc.

    There are trade-offs no matter which method one chooses for publishing - but no method is a "can't lose" proposition.
     
  13. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Here's an explanation of vanity, trade, and self-publishing service companies:

    http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/vanity/
     
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  14. gwrolls
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    gwrolls Member

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    Thanks, I'll have a look.


    Again, thank you, will check it out :)


    Thanks to everyone else. I thought I ought to start looking into the process as I've got a manuscript of one of three
     
  15. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    The best thing to do when you want to start writing a novel is to start writing a novel.
    -Stephen King.
     

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