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How to Get Your Book Published - a poet's journey to get to press

Updated on March 6, 2014

Gleaming Beneath the Rust and Weeds

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Frustration and Dead End Roads

Interestingly enough, getting a poetry book to press is probably one of the most difficult things to do in the literary world. Mainstream publishing companies are a wonderful way to get a book into the public eye and into bookstores. There's just one problem, it is nearly impossible to get looked at for publication, especially if you are a poet.

A poet can submit manuscripts to every publisher and receive nothing but rejections. Poetry is a small market and publishers have a responsibility to get to market with books that will make money for their shareholders and for their brand. It is understandable that expending time and effort on less than a stellar poet (say a Maya Angelou or a Robert Frost) would be unwise. Add to this fact that most publishers won't accept an unsolicited manuscript for poetry - that is to say, you need a literary agent. Again, a route to frustration. In my internet searching there were a total of 3 literary agents on the east coast who represent poets. Of those three, zero will take an un-referred poet. Really? Really. Talk about road blocks and dead ends. Frustrating didn't begin to cover how this felt in the process of getting to press.

After I completed the preliminary step to getting published - which involved banging my head against the flat surface of a wall - I decided to find another way, I decided to take Robert Frost's advice and travel the less worn path. I suggest you join me!

Let Your Dream Take Flight

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It is in Rising Above Our Excuses - That Dreams Take Flight

Yes, you can take no for an answer. I did for years. Or you can follow the advice of a teacher I know who always tells her students to "rise above their excuses". What amazing advice. Yes, it would be simple to give up, to say "I am not good enough, I am not worthwhile, and I quit". But why should we allow ourselves to fail and to quit when there are other options? The biggest failures in life are ones that came when we we quit trying.

Publishers may or may not reject works you've written. Art, my friends, is very subjective. Just because a mainstream publisher doesn't really "get" your work or doesn't want to take a risk on it, doesn't mean that it isn't worthwhile. There are always other folks who will "get it" and who would want to read what you've written. Additionally, being a writer isn't necessarily about being a best-selling writer. Being a writer is about expressing, connecting, getting your work in print, and offering others who may be interested the opportunity to hear your spirit in the work you produce. It doesn't take a NY Times bestseller to achieve those goals. It takes getting your book into print, in whatever way might be available to you at the time you are prepared to step off the "I give up" precipice into the, "I refuse to quit" abyss.

Friends - let me introduce you to self-publishing and online independant publishers who just may accept your work and publish for you. What a wonderful thing to learn. There are other roads to success, sometimes you just need to look beyond the brick wall which has been erected in your path. Once you refuse to be halted - there is nothing you cannot accomplish.

Cross the Bridge to Success!

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Some Publishing Options to Consider

There are many online and small self publishing outlets to consider. I searched through many of them and made a choice to use one which offered the best of both worlds; publishing hard copy books that can be held in one's hands and marketing that book online through various outlets as well as publishing a kindle version of the book which is fully downloadable. While some folks prefer to self publish locally and handle distribution themselves, for me, this wide reaching online format with the option to have local vendors also order at a discount and sell my work, and being able to market it myself AND with their help, was the best choice.

So - where can you look to get your work to market? Let me offer you some choices - Online companies can be helpful:

  • Createspace.com - an Amazon company. This is a wonderful and highly responsive company which helps writers get to market in the most expedient way possible. You'll need to create an account and get yourself a paypal. But once those things are done, this is an extremely easy to use venu as well as in incredibly responsive company to deal with. I chose them for my publication "Gleaming Beneath the Rust and Weeds" and they were amazing to deal with, as well as being an incredibly connected distributor with many channels of distribution and marketing that they connect you to at no additional charge. This process through Createspace was free. Yes - free.
  • Lulu.com - This company has been out there publishing since 2002 and has done som amazing things. They publish in various formats and also have a very wide variety of distribution channels to showcase your work. It is extremely similar to Createspace and well worth a look. Again this publisher gets your work to market for free.
  • Xlibris.com - This company was created by authors for authors. They also offer a wide variety of services and there are fees for those services. That said, you have total control and retain all rights to your work. With other online companies your rights to the material are often shared in some way. This service is extremely professional and has broad in store distribution possibilities as well as online opportunities to consider. But again, there are costs associated with the process through this company.
  • There are dozens of others, do a simple google search of "online publishers" and "self publishing companies" and the list is quite long.
  • Do some research and be sure to check for hidden costs and for intellectual property rights issues that may be associated.

There is a great resource article about companies out there helping authors get to market - it's worth a read. http://online-book-publishing-review.toptenreviews.com/ I looked at this one before making my choices - and feel it would help you as well.

How The Process Worked With Createspace

Now that you know where to look for a publisher - let me share a bit about the process, so that your journey will be a tad more smooth than my first attempt.

Number one thing to do - Finish your manuscript. As a writer, it is easy to put the cart before the horse, and try to find your publisher and figure out the ending of the plot long before the filler material is written. So, finish the book that you're wanting to publish and then step onto the road toward publication.

Once you're on that road here's how it works with Createspace:

  • Create your account
  • Start a project - Remember to pick a strong title, and that once your ISBN number is generated, it cannot be changed
  • Determine the finish size of your book - there are many choices
  • Design your cover - there is an online tool for this - or for a fee you can have them help you. I prefer free, so I designed my own.
  • Download a template which matches the size of your book
  • Carefully copy your manuscript into the template. Be sure not to make changes to the way the pages are numbered and formatted because that creates problems later on in the process
  • Proof-read that thing to death. REALLY, it is critical to proof-read several times and even have someone you trust proof-read it as well
  • Save your book as a "pdfA" and be sure any fonts are "embedded". Be sure all photos are 300DPI as well.
  • Upload your interior book files to Createspace
  • Proof the manuscript online. Createspace has an automatic format checker which scans the book for formatting issues and obvious errors. It will advise you of formatting errors as soon as it is finished. It does NOT read for content.
  • Once you've approved the online copy - Createspace will review your book and determine its needs and let you know if the manuscript is accepted.
  • If it isn't accepted, edit and try again. Eventually it will get accepted.
  • Createspace does have professional help that can proof and revise for you at a price - getting help with actual book editing and design does have a cost
  • Once it is accepted, order your proof copy. This hard copy of the book will be shipped to you and has a small cost associated (mine was 3.13 plus shipping)
  • Review the proof copy and have friends do so. As the author you're too close to the work to catch some of the minor mistakes, friends are better at finding them and not laughing at us as they appear
  • Approve your proof online or make changes and go through the approval process again.
  • Once approved - select all your distribution channels and get published!
  • Please note that at any point if you have a question or problem in the process, Createspace is the singularly most responsive company I have ever worked with, simply click "contact us" and choose "call me" they will call you immediately, 24/7, it was amazing.

Sharing Your Spirit With Others is a Gift

Being published is something that one does in life because they deeply want to share their thoughts and experience; they want to connect with and perhaps move others; they believe art is to be shared. I am grateful to have become a published author/poet and published photographer. My new book "Gleaming Beneath the Rust and Weeds" is able to be purchased online. Simply click here "Check It Out" - to see what a createspace book looks like. You can also get a copy for yourself or a friend Gleaming is available on Amazon.com as well. Just click this link to visit the page This book is a collection of poems and photographs, along with some paintings. I hope you'll enjoy it.

I wish you all luck on your journey to publication and will be looking forward to finding more published authors online. This is possible, you have the tools and ability to make your dreams happen, so please, "rise above your excuses" and share your talent with others.

Let Your Creativity Bloom

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© 2014 Karen Quinn

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    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 3 years ago from Reno NV

      I have a book size collection of poetry that I have compiled while writing here for hubpages I want to publish badly but I am a slow starter. You information has really helped me, thank you. Jamie

    • youtalktoofast profile image
      Author

      Karen Quinn 3 years ago from Bucks County, Pensylvania

      Jamie I am so glad to have helped you! My life has been filled with writing poetry and photographing things in the world in an artistic way - and feeling frustrated at not being able to share it. Blogging was a wonderful help but I NEEDED to publish and have it in a book - a way to validate all the work and effort that I could share with others who may be moved by or receive comfort from all those poems. Finally, I found a way. I hope you share with me when you find your way.

      Sincerely

      Karen

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