How To Get a Book Published
Get Published Easily and Cheaply
In today's world, the publishing industry has been going through some
amazing changes. With 98% of all manuscripts submitted to the "big
houses" being rejected, many authors are turning to self-publishing as
a viable alternative. This has created a huge new market for would-be
Self-publishing has grown exponentially over the last decade or so, experiencing roughly a 30% growth rate annually. This growth has been accompanied by a huge influx of "self-publishing" companies setting up shop to help inexperienced authors get their works to print.
Many new authors don't have the first clue as to how to go about getting published, nor do many have the funds necessary to do it the right way on their own. These "self-publishing" companies can offer myriad tools and services to make the process much less painful. You can find companies offering anything from just simple print layout to a complete host of services including editing, marketing tools, cover design, and sales assistance. Most will offer a selection of bundled packages as well as "a la carte" services that can be purchased as the need arises.
The best thing about self-publishing concerns the author's rights. When a new author submits his manuscript to a traditional publisher, he typically has to give up his copyrights...not only for that manuscript but for any future work he may publish. He is under contract with the publisher---he is owned. And for his indentured servitude, he can typically expect 10 to 15% royalties on his work. If he has an agent, he can expect to pay 10% of his earned royalties to him as well.
As a self-published author, one retains all of his rights---copyrights, movie rights, electronic publication rights, everything. When he opens the front cover of his new book he will see "Copyright, his name, 2009", instead of "Copyright, RandomHouse, 2009". When his book becomes a best-seller and Universal Studios decides it wants to turn his novel into a movie, the movie maker has to negotiate with him...not some publishing house leech. If the author decides he wants to offer his book on Amazon's digital book service, Kindle, he just does it---no special permissions from a publisher necessary.
Now many would argue that a large publishing house has things to offer that might not otherwise be available, or affordable, to a self-published author. Take advertising for instance. Who could afford all those "Da Vinci Code" TV commericals we all saw, right? Well think about it...there were roughly 480,000 books published in the US alone last year. How many book commercials do you remember seeing? Ten? Five? Less? The point is that no publisher is going to fork out huge advertising capital until a book has already sold a million copies, if even then. What about scheduling book signings? What about it? If you can use a telephone, you can schedule a book signing. Just start locally to keep your travel expenses at a minimum, then schedule signings further away as your revenues allow. About the only things an author is really missing out on by not choosing a traditional publisher are the big advance checks and the greater access to the huge number of bookstores around the country and across the globe. But that isn't really true either. Since traditional publishing houses reject about 98% of all the manuscripts they receive, you had better have a sure-fire best-seller on your hands if you're planning on getting any kind of advance. As far as getting access to book retailers goes, a respectable self-publishing house will offer the same access as the traditional houses. My publisher, Author House, for instance, provides access to 25,000 retailers worldwide, as well as 1000's of online booksellers like Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
The big argument against self-publishing used to be that the author was required to put up most, if not all, of the cash himself, with no guarantees that his work would sell a single copy. Authors used to need to have 100's of copies of their books printed up front and then hope they could sell them. But with the advent of print-on-demand services, this is no longer the case. There is no longer any need to warehouse inventory. Once your manuscript is set-up for printing, then all that's left to do is to sell it. As soon as an order is placed---say from Amazon.com---your book is printed, bound and shipped, usually in the same day. The costs for the printing, binding, shipping, etc. come out of the sales price, and the author gets the rest. There are no up front costs to the author whatsoever, except what he paid to get the book ready for print. This cost can vary greatly among self-publishing companies; it can range anywhere from a couple of hundred to several thousand dollars. It is best to consider the costs, services, and reputation together when deciding on a self-publishing house.
After scouring numerous self-publishing houses, I chose Author House because they fit all of my criteria. They have several different publishing packages available starting at under $600. The package I chose ran just under $1200 and included everything I wanted to get started. I received: full print set-up; one-on-one support; a custom, full-color cover and personalized back cover; custom interior design; ISBN assignment; electronic proofs; online distribution; marketing consultation; hard cover, paperback, and E-book formats; book buyer's preview; and complimentary copies in both hard cover and paperback. In addition to all that, they have the full gambit of other services available, a la carte, such as: editing; additional marketing and advertising tools; and design, production, and sales services for additional fees. One of the additional services I chose was the Guaranteed Return Service. Retailers like the idea that they can return unsold copies of books, and they often will look for a return policy like this when perusing a publisher's catalog for books to carry in their stores. For $70, I was able to ensure book sellers they can return unsold copies for a refund, and the royalties I was paid for those copies remained unchanged. You may not need all of these services, or maybe there are other services you would want to include. The important thing is to remember to shop for a publisher like you would for a car. Consider the options, the cost, and the reputation. Author House published 19,000 titles last year...nearly six times the number published by Random House, the world's largest publisher of consumer books.
Another nice thing about self-publishing is the author gets to name his own price. Instead of being stuck with the 10% or 15% from a traditional house, a self-published author can keep as much as 55% of the sales proceeds, depending on what venue he chooses. One needs to be careful here, so as not to price himself out of sales. The final retail price of a book will depend on the commission schedule one chooses plus the printing costs, so the author shouldn't be too greedy or the book may end up getting priced higher than people are willing to pay for it. I would rather sell 100 paperbacks for $15 with a royalty of 30% than sell two books at $25 with a 50% royalty...know what I mean?
So in my opinion, self-publishing is a no-brainer. Just ask James Redfield, author of the best-seller "The Celestine Prophecy". He was turned down by numerous traditional houses, so he decided to self-publish. After selling 250,000 copies of the first printing on his own, the big guys finally took notice. He scored a huge deal with Warner Books, and "The Celestine Prophecy" went on to become a multi-million best-seller. Lisa Genova wrote her first novel entitled "Still Alice" and was turned down or completely ignored by over 100 literary agents. She paid $450 to iUniverse to publish the book and then sold copies to independent book stores. A fellow author eventually discovered the book and introduced her to an agent. She sold "Still Alice" to Pocket Books for a mid six-figure advance. Pocket Books released a new edition in January, 2009, and "Still Alice" debuted on the New York Times trade paperback fiction best-seller list that same month at #5.
As you can see..."self-publishing" is no longer a dirty word. For more on self-publishing, check out some of the Google Ad links on this page.