In the previous part of this mini series on my blog, I went over how to know when you are ready to send out your manuscript. Well, the next step to take is then to of course send it out.
I thought it would be good to go over what options there are out there for someone who wants their story published. Then after, I will briefly go over how to know if an offer is right for you.
So, you have your book complete. You have gone over it hundreds of times, have received feedback from a bunch of people, and you have your query letter all ready and set. So the next thing is of course, to send it out. In the previous post I did link a website that showed all the publishers and literary agents that you could go through. But say you have sent to everyone on that list and you still haven’t heard anything back. Now, this isn’t a time to be disheartened. It doesn’t mean your work is not publishable. Something I learnt from my degree is that writing is subjective. I could love a story that my friend hated. I could feel connected to one character that someone else didn’t like. It just may be that the people you sent to can’t get on board with your idea — but it doesn’t mean someone out there wouldn’t. Did you know that E.L. James first self published Fifty Shades of Grey? Did you know that Margret Atwood’s first book was self published? And I can bet you had no clue that Beatrix Potter was self published before she was picked up after having sold 250 copies. Just because literary agents haven’t picked it up, does not mean that it is not worthy.
I am fortunate enough to be in contact with a Lady who has worked in the publishing industry, and whilst I was trying to get my debut novel out there, she talked me through other options. So here I am going to relay them to you.
Of course, you can self publish. It is so easy these days with companies such as Amazon. You can simply upload it and when someone purchases it, Amazon will put it to print and it will be sent out there. But don’t think you can just simply upload for free and then see the money. There is such a trade out there that you need to try and put your work out there as best as possible — and if you self publish you don’t have a publishing company behind you to market it. The marketing and promotion is on you. A good thing to do is first hire an editor. It’s easy to find someone online, and don’t be afraid to pay for a good editor. Just like the marketing, you don’t have a company behind you, so you need to do that part yourself and go out and find a good editor to ensure your work is at the right layout and standard of a published novel. Next is to hire someone to do the cover. Again, there are websites out there to help you out.
I looked at this one when I was considering if self-publishing was an option if I didn’t get picked up – fiverr.com
This is what you use to help with promotion. The cover and noted that it has been edited. Then make a website, an instagram, a twitter, a Pinterest, anything that can help social media wise to promote it. Get friends and family to write reviews, comments, etc… just get the word out if you are going to self publish.
Another thing you could do is look at publishers themselves. Some out there do accept manuscripts without literary agents, and normally this is when they do digital prints. This means they will do ebooks first before doing a physical paperback or hardback cover. They look at the sales and then if it sells well, then they can do the traditional route of paperback to try and sell it within book shops.
She gave me this website to look at which is specific for anyone wanting to published YA. So sorry if you’re aiming for adult, but there are many websites out there that can help you out.
YA focused for un-agented – https://thejohnfox.com/2017/07/30-best-young-adult-ya-publishers/
Either way, there are more options out there than you might not have known. Just ensure your always aiming for publishers or agents or other options that meet the genre and audience you have written to.
I also wanted to briefly go over how to know whether an option is good or not for you.
Firstly, know what it is you are looking for. I knew I needed help in all aspects as this was my first novel. Therefore, I wanted to ensure the person/people I went with would help in all aspects such as editing, layout, cover, marketing and promotion. Normally many publishers/agents will say they do this, so it is down to you to ask how hand in hand are they with the author?
The one I decided to go for said that they will be with me every step of the way, guiding me and giving as much knowledge and feedback as possible, but at the end of the day it would always be my final decision.
Another thing is to know what you’re expecting money rate. Of course, this is hard to know as even if a book sells for £7.99, the cut the author gets will be perhaps 10% of that. Therefore, you need to be prepared to not see the riches straight away. Just ensure you are getting a fair cut and that the publisher/agent isn’t taken you for granted. Look around the internet to see others experiences.
The next thing is to ensure that you have the rights to your work. The written work of your book will always be yours. The only thing the publisher/agent can take the rights for is the marketing, the distribution and part of any further versions of the book. But the story, the characters, the setting, the words — they are all yours. So ensure in the contract they give you that there is no con in there. It clearly states that the work is still yours. Another good thing to note is that many publishers will put a deadline to publish your work. It’s normally along the lines such as 300 days, or 12 months, etc.. where if they don’t complete the final product and have it out in shops by the end of that deadline, then you have every right by law to take your work and try and get published by someone else. This proves that the written work is still yours and they only own the rights to the scenes behind the book, and not the product itself.
It is hard to know if an offer is perfect for you. All I can say is sometimes you have to take that leap. I was fortunate enough to have two offers before the one I accepted, and all I can say is when I got that through, I had this moment where I felt it was finally happening, that my book was going to be published. They were so professional and sent me the contract which I could go over without me even asking for it. I asked people around me what they thought about the terms and conditions, but in the end, I felt comfortable enough to go with them. Don’t feel like you have to go for your first offer. I didn’t it. Sometimes just waiting a few more weeks can give you a much better option.
The next part I will go over is what happens once you have signed the contract. What to expect within the first couple months, but also to literate that even when you sign the contract, it is still a long process until you see the final version.
Once again, any questions, leave them below and I will try to answer them as best as I can.
Good luck with your writing!