Getting published in today's world
Every manuscript will need editing, even if it just a close inspection by your favorite English teacher or your niece who is in her final year of a BA Lit bachelors degree. Once we had a MS edited by an English teacher and it came back so severely edited that the writer’s ‘voice’ had been completely demolished, so even they are not guaranteed! The point is that someone with writing skills has to cast their eye over it. It is amazing what one’s own eye misses! There are of course many professional editors out there, but the one we usually recommend is Jimmy Henderson. We know him to be reliable and his rates are reasonable.
It's all about content!
It may seem obvious, but every writing endeavor has to have content that is appealing to a group of people, otherwise it will be lost to posterity. So the first step would be to find a subject that arouses your passion and which you think will appeal to others. This may well be based on an experience you may have had, either traumatic or inspiring; after all experience gives you credibility. I suggest that you do some research into what others have written about your subject and try to come up with an unique angle. There are various books that help with the writing process and the one we recommend is How to Write… Right! (Graysonian Press).
It can be very tempting to pay money to a ‘publishing house’ to ‘publish your book’. Some of them do a good (but often expensive) job of producing your book, but that’s where it stops. The retail trade is quite rightly suspicious of titles from these presses because there is no gate keeper; no one to draw the line on substandard or non-commercial work. Of course if it’s a life memoir and you just want it professionally produced for your family then these services work very well. All I can say is that there must be money in it because even major publishing houses like Hay House now offer these services at costs ranging from $1000.00 for the bare bones to $8000.00 for more marketing options.
These are people who earn a living by agenting manuscripts that they have approved to established publishing houses. Most of the bigger publishing houses these days will not even look at unsolicited manuscripts, so unpublished writers will make serious attempts to get their masterpiece accepted by a Lit. Ag who can open the door of major publishing houses to them. As you can imagine this can be almost as hard as gaining access to a recognized publishing house yourself. The best literary agents have had years of experience in publishing and should know exactly who does what in the industry. They will only earn a small percentage (around 15%) of your royalty, so you will have to convince them that your book will sell in the numbers to make it worth their while.
Given the daunting challenges faced by debut authors, it can be very tempting to go the self-publishing route. This activity can range from simply going down to your friendly local printer with your MS Word doc and having a few copies printed to the more expensive options offered by companies offering you help in self-publishing your book. In the latter case your book may look more professional, but you often end up with challenges in getting your book out there.
The biggest of these is distribution. There is also a perception that self-published is the same as vanity, and has therefore no standing in the eyes of the bookshop buyer. The book will therefore be more difficult to sell to the book chain buyer. However if you are good at sales then all you will need is fulfillment.
One of the services offered by Amazon to produce your book and sell it on Amazon is Create Space. The fees are very reasonable but you do have to go the trouble of getting an ISBN and having it professionally typeset with a professional cover design etc. This can be a relatively easy option, certainly much easier than the vanity presses and less dangerous. However the next big challenge is marketing. The easier the access to getting your book published like this the more other authors will sign up. Close to half a million new titles are published annually in the English speaking world, so how will your book be noticed amongst the clamor and noise? Remember also that the big publishing houses have much bigger marketing budgets than you.
Getting published by a traditional publisher such as Kima Global would be first prize because traditional publishers take on the risk and usually invest in your book. They also usually do quite a lot of marketing and being a member of a group of like-minded authors can also be helpful. A lot more information about getting published can be found here. Kima Global does consider unsolicited manuscripts but we do have quite strict criteria for acceptance and of course we are quite tightly niched. However within these guidelines the range is quite wide so if your book has a chance of getting accepted then by all means make a submission.