- Publishing on your own
- Traditional publishing through a company (typically via a literary agent)
- Indie publishing can refer to either publishing through a small independent company, or publishing on your own, through founding your own independent company
- Self-publishing typically refer to authors printing their own work without the skills or resources to do so. If a “self-published” book looks professional, is well written and edited, it is considered indie
- Vanity presses will take your money to “self-publish”, meaning your book will still look home made and you will be a few thousand dollars poorer
A few publishers will consider writers with no agents, but the typical submission route sees an agent pitching your work to publishers
Who are agents?
Agents are experts in the book business. They consider hundreds of books a day, choose a few promising clients a year and try to pitch their work to publishers. If you did get an agent he is your best bookish friend!
Agents are experts who believe in your book. Treat them fairly and don’t expect them to be your biatch.
Their job is pitching to publishers, not advertise your book nor edit nor listen to you whine. Know what to expect.
What do agents do?
They select authors as clients and try to get them good deals with publishers. They are paid when the writer is paid. Never give money to anyone to read your work! A serious agent would never ask for money.
What don’t agents do? They don’t advertise your book, they don’t edit
How do I get an agent?
To get an agent you have to write a query letter (future post on how to do that). In fact, on average, you have to write about 100 queries to find an agent and that is only if your book is prime stuff. An alternative is to take part in "pitching competitions" like PitMad on twitter or attending a writers' pitch conference.
How do I select which agent is right for me?
Don’t flood all the literary agents of the world at once. Choose two or three who published books you liked and are similar to yours. If you can’t think of any you should probably be spending more time reading before you consider publishing. Check AgentQuery to find agents open to submissions in your genre. Do some research on them, make sure they are a good fit and be ready for rejection.
How do I deal with rejection?
Why go traditional?
Publishers and agents have a ton of experience.They will guarantee that your book is the best it can be. Also they can offer you the best distribution at no cost (out of pocket at least). There will be no typos, the cover and format will be impeccable, they will distribute your book in bookstores countrywide and it will have the best title ever. So, if you have the time and will to pursue this route, go for it!
What are the disadvantages of a publisher?
Spending a year writing query letters and being rejected. Spending another year to find a publisher and close to another year to see the book in stores. Losing some of the creative freedom (they’ll decide your cover, title, illustrations, although of course you do have a saying in it!). Losing part of your royalties (which are already quite low) to pay the agent and the publisher.
A typical publishing deal gives the author 15% of the royalties (NOT 15% of the retail cost!)
For example…your book sells for $15. Printing and other costs are $6. Book stores get a 55% discount (they need to make money too!). Bookstores get it for $6.75. If printing costs $5, per book you make 15% ($6.75-$5)= 26 cents
What are the advantages of independent publishing?
Your revenue per book will be much higher! Yes, amazon takes a cut, but you still make much more then 15% per book. You have complete freedom over your book. Your book can be published in a jiffy. With print on demand you don’t have to prepay paper copies on your books.
What are the disadvantages of independent publishing?
You have to learn A LOT and do even more. You are responsible for your book to be the best it can be, that’s hard without experience! But it’s doable, and once you learn you can help others :) I’ll be honest with you, most of the self published books out there are terrible. Still some of my favorites authors are self (independently) published. Do your research, be thorough, be professional!
The hard facts:It takes on average about a year to find an agent. Only 5% of authors with an agent get a book deal. A pretty good book deal is a $1,000 advance and 15% on every book sold after that. First time authors, on average, sell 400 books and will have to pay back the publisher for unsold books over their advance, let’s say return $200 of the original grand. Wanna cry? Go right ahead.
Also, publishers, typically, have one or two huge book releases per year. They will not put all their advertising money on little unknown you, they will invest it where they have a safer return, let’s say…Stephen King.
Indie-publish your first few books. Learn the trade. If you are selling a decent number of books (more than 400 per title) within a short time that will be a great card to play to seduce an agent.
Regardless of the route you choose, publishing it’s going to be a ton of work (if you actually want to sell some books). Roll up your sleeves and happy publishing ^_^
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