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How to Publish Your Book

Updated on April 19, 2012

Publish your book First Draft Cover Illustration

Small Press or Self Publishing Your Book

Just how do you make money from your writing? I've published two children's books, so far, the first, The Tales of Zebedy Do Dah, with a small press Onlywomen Press and the second, Archie Parchie Piddley Poo, self published with Authorhouse. There are pros and cons for both options and it really depends on what you want.

You've written your masterpiece and leafed through The Writer's Yearbook (always a great gift idea if any of my family is reading this, hint, hint!), but you can't decide which way to go. you're certainly not going to make any money if your manuscript sits in the drawer, so make a decision and be brave.

The Small Press Option

One bonus of publishing with a small press is that you don't necessarily require an agent. Many small presses invite unsolicited manuscripts (MS), but you need to research how they like the MS submitted.

The first thing I did was to research small publishers to try and find one whose other work was similar to the content of my book, which was a series of children's short stories. I had always been taught that it was very bad form to send your MS out to more than one publisher at once, but more and more often I hear that writers send their manuscripts to several publishers simultaneously, and even bidding wars are acceptable (Oh to be that sought after).

 Just like larger publishers, small presses may reject your manuscript, often with the standard rejection slip, although some may offer advice along with the "Your manuscript is lovely, just not right for us......."

I was lucky, I posted off my manuscript fully expecting not to hear a thing for at least three months or so, and debating with myself when to start chasing up an answer, but the next afternoon I had a telephone call from the Editor accepting my work.  To say I was amazed is an understatement.

The Long and Winding Road to Success

I naively thought that my book would be in print within a few months, not so. This is one of the downsides to a publisher producing your work IT TAKES TIME - ALOT OF TIME! I wrote mybook in 2005 and the MS was accepted in spring 2007. A contract followed quickly, but the book is only just being released now, Autumn 2009, some four years after the first pen stroke on paper.

When you tell anyone that you've had a book published I guess everyone tends to think of JK Rowling's success, but you need to think of book publishing as a long-term venture.

Your Publisher may insist on edits and re-writes and you have to accept that they know their market, grit your teeth and just knuckle down and get on with it, even if you disagree.

Small Press - The Plusses

On the plus side of publishing with a small press, you will benefit from your Editor's knowledge of what is good writing and what works in their particular market.

You will also benefit from the fact that your Editor is PAYING for all of the publishing costs of your book, the typesetting, proofreading, design, illustator (in my case), printer, shipping etc., the list is long.

You also have the benefit of all their marketing knowledge and assistance.  Your Editor may well throw a launch party (be prepared to travel at your own expense - don't get sniffy about the cost involved), and will most likely set up book readings, and promote your book within stores. 

Self-Publishing

The beauty of self-publishing is that you pretty much have complete freedom to publish your book in it's entirety without editorial input. No one is going to tell you to cut parts or re-write them, but it does meant that you don't have that safety net of another's professional opinion.

Self-publishing is also QUICK! Your book will be in print in weeks not years, which means you can begin marketing it and earning money from it. I'm not going to go into 'how to market your book' mode here, that's a whole other article.

The downside really is the cost. Shop around - decide what you can afford. Not only do you have the publication cost, but you have the marketing costs too.

Some writers are so at home behind their keyboard that they find getting out there and 'selling your book' (clicking the link lets you visit my store.  To return here hit the back button) really difficult. It's hard to face rejection again and again from bookstores. Times are difficult and booksellers don't have alot of spare cash. If you're a shrinking voilet don't go down the self publishing route, or you'll have a big box of books under your bed forever!

Alot of the marketing you do will be trial and error, as you don't have a publisher's reputation or knowledge.

Decision Time

In short, yer pays yer money and yer takes yer choice!

If you're a cocky git, totally independent, control freak with some money available, go down the self-publish route.

If you want the benefit of a publisher's knowledge skills and financial backing, go for a small press.

Of course, you could go down another route entirely and pay to have your book read by a proofreading service.  reputable ones will give you lots of feedback, making sure your book is ready to find a publisher.  Some proofreading services act as talent scouts for agents too.

The next step would be to find an agent, which entails researching what the different agents like, and then getting your manuscript out there.  Once again, this takes alot of time, so don't expect results quickly.

Writiers used to expect an advance of tens of thousands of pounds for writing their book, which would tide them over financially until the book was published.  Now, you could expect an advance of between £500 to £1500.  How times have changed!  Anyhow, goog luck!

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    • lifewellspoken profile image

      lifewellspoken 

      7 years ago from Vancouver BC

      Nice work Georgina, I love that you are a dog lover. I work alot with dogs when I do my photograhy.

    • Georgina_writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgina Crawford 

      7 years ago from Dartmoor

      Thanks Ingenira - maybe someone will write one soon.

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 

      7 years ago

      Congratulations for having published two children books.

      The title and cover of the book "Archie Parchie Piddley Poo" is really attractive ! It'd be good to have someone writing a review about it. :P Any good book needs a promotion to be known.

    • Georgina_writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgina Crawford 

      7 years ago from Dartmoor

      Hi drewgo,

      In some respects, publishing can be easy, especially if you invest your own cash. The difficult part is getting people to buy your work once published!

    • drewgo profile image

      drewgo 

      7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Excellent hub. Very useful information -I have looked at publishing before and it can seem either very daunting or unbelievably easy (depending on whether you are reading an article or an ad). It's good to see a very down-to-earth overview like this.

    • Georgina_writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgina Crawford 

      7 years ago from Dartmoor

      Thank you Happyboomernurse. Publishing's certainy not a get rich quick scheme!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      Excellent overview of the route to publishing a book. You packed alot of info that gives wannabee writers options. It's amazing that your first manuscript was accepted within a day but I'm glad you also shared the fact that even so, it took a long time to get published. I love the covers and titles of your books, especially Archie-Parchie-Piddley-Poo. Thanks for sharing this great article.

    • Georgina_writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgina Crawford 

      8 years ago from Dartmoor

      Hi cashmere. I think if I were self-publishing again, I would go for a Print On Demand press - that's the next big thing, but then you don't get your books into the big bookstores, which I have done by using the two methods above.

    • cashmere profile image

      cashmere 

      8 years ago from India

      Thank you for all this information on Self Publishing Vs Small Press. In India I think self publishing is yet to catch on, and the small press is really small sector. One needs to get into the publishing with a proper company or the book will never see the insides of a bookstore !!!

    • Georgina_writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgina Crawford 

      8 years ago from Dartmoor

      Thanks Janny C. It's not easy whichever route you take, and publishers are strapped for cash right now, making it even tougher for unknowns, but keep at it and you'll get there.

    • JannyC profile image

      JannyC 

      8 years ago

      Excellent hub I found this informative. Im in a quandrum as well in what to do with my novel. Self publish or go traditonal route. I submitted to some agents actually and still am waiting.Maybe I will look at small presses now to pass the time. That sounds up my alley.I want feed back and input for I want to improve in my writing. Self publishing I will not get that and I have not even had another pair of eyes go over my novel and my eyes only see so much. Love this hub!

    • Georgina_writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgina Crawford 

      8 years ago from Dartmoor

      treasuresyw - It is a learning curve, isn't it. Have you written a hub on it? I'll look later - I'm always interested to see how other's have managed publishing.

    • treasuresyw profile image

      treasuresyw 

      8 years ago from Savannah, GA

      Thanks for such a great article. I have three published. My first one I published through PublishAmerica.com. I signed a seven year contract because I had no money and didn't want to wait forever to be published. It wasn't the best idea. I learned to do what they did and publish it online. I still have to do my own promoting so why not do it myself and make better royalties.

    • Georgina_writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgina Crawford 

      8 years ago from Dartmoor

      What can I say, Old Hack, except - go for it and get the novel out there! If I can do it so can you.

    • The Old Hack profile image

      The Old Hack 

      8 years ago

      Nice hub and very good advice. I’ve had a novel on the “back burner” for years and so far I haven’t had the nerve to share it with anyone. Maybe this is the year I’ll get it finished.

    • hypnodude profile image

      Andrew 

      8 years ago from Italy

      Great hub. Very interesting for those interested in publishing books. I think that the best way would be the third one. Having at least a professional opinion is required.

    • Georgina_writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgina Crawford 

      8 years ago from Dartmoor

      Its frustrating when publishers have different ideas than you. I'd suggest keep going with it and send it to a few others - you have nothing to lose. Also, there are professional manuscript readers out there who will give good advice and tidy things up (like grammar) so that you're in the best possible position to sell to a publisher, but these guys usually charge around £300

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 

      8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      georgina another great informative hub. I wrote two romance (hahah)novels. BUT no go a couple of publishers said I had too many characters.

      Actually 6 people. But they were side plots etc to the main 2 characters. Anyway I gave up. I did put a couple of chapters in Helium and soon learned that my grammar not good. But hey now we in hubpages. and thats great for me

    • Godslittlechild profile image

      Godslittlechild 

      8 years ago

      I've been curious about publishing my own book for sometime now. Thanks for the info!

    • Gilo profile image

      Gilo 

      8 years ago

      That's a pretty good description of the perils of publishing. And now most publishers won't even accept unsolicited manuscripts - meaning you need an agent who wants their own slice of the pie. Yay for hubbing.

    • Georgina_writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgina Crawford 

      8 years ago from Dartmoor

      Hey go for it, everyone has a book inside them somewhere. If I can do it, so can you - just don't aim to get rich quick! But then, you may be one of the lucky ones.

    • Laurel Oakes profile image

      Laurel Oakes 

      8 years ago

      Very informative. I have wondered about publishing a book but never made an attempt to find out. Thank you and thanks for your help with the URL

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