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How to Publish Your Book

Updated on February 27, 2019

How to Publish a Book - First Draft Cover Illustration

Publishing Options

Since writing this article way back in 2009, publishing options have expanded immensely and it's never been easier to see your book in print. There are four main ways to bring your book to the market, and this article is a brief synopsis of how you might become a published writer.

The options are:

Traditional publishing.

Small Press publishing.

Vanity publishing.

Self publishing.

Publishing Your Book with a Traditional Publisher

If you decide to go down the traditional publishing house route, ideally you will require an agent - few large publishing houses will accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Agents can be found by researching online, or by working through the Artists and Writers Year Book. You will need to find someone who publishes or works with clients writing in your genre and then approach them. It would be useless, for example to approach a steamy romance publisher with your 'how to' book on widget manufacturing.

A suitable approach would be a covering letter, explaining what your book is about - a synopsis, and a little about who you are, alongside the first chapter (or sometimes three chapters) of your book.

It used to be good manners only to approach one agent at a time, but most now accept that you may have contacted several.

The benefits of working with a traditional publishing house are that they bear the cost of all production. They will design your covers and how the book looks. They will also have access to book stores and will do some marketing of your book for you. However, they will also expect you to market yourself too.

They are likely to retain the copyright of your book, and may ask you to edit, cut or otherwise alter your manuscript, but they do have the expertise of their market.

A traditional publisher may also offer an advance on future work. Advances used to be substantial sums of money, but are now usually a few hundred pounds, which will be clawed back from your royalties.

Sales of your book will earn you a royalty fee, but contracts require close scrutiny before signing, so that you know exactly what you will receive and what your publisher will take (authors often receive around 10-15% of the book price).

A good agent should be able to obtain the best deal for you, although again, you need to know what their fees are and what they can offer before signing on the dotted line.


The Small Press Publishing 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.

I published one of my books in this way. The first thing I did was to research small publishers (again using the Writers and Artists Year Book) 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 then approached in the same way as described, with a covering letter and the first story.

There are several writing magazines on sale, that have listings at the back where publishing houses advertise for writers to submit manuscripts. It may be worth looking at some of these too.

Again, the benefits of being published in this way are that the publisher bears all of the costs. They will design your cover and will provide any illustration or artwork needed. They may do a little marketing with you too, such as a launch party.

However, the Publisher has the ultimate say over the final product. They may ask you to re-write sections, cut sections, or provide illustrations that you're not necessarily keen on. They may also set deadlines that you have to work to.

Few small press publishers would be able to offer an advance on future sales and again, the author usually receives a small royalty fee. I seem to remember my royalties being around 20% for my first book.

NB: one thing to be aware of with a small publishing firm, is that you should have written into your contract what happens if the company goes out of business, or breaks the terms of the contract, as regards moneys owed and copyright. It would be good to know whether, or not the rights revert back to you as the author.

Vanity Publishing

Vanity publishing houses will accept any manuscript for publication. They often promise the earth, but unless you are very fortunate, your sales may be poor. They are an easy way to get your book into print, but the financial costs may be high. You have to pay for your book to be published, and the cost of packages can be steep.

However, if you are not particularly technical, they will do all of the 'difficult' work for you, and will even design your cover etc., which does mean that you can work on writing rather than spending hours at the computer trying to work out why your book isn't uploading (and any other myriad of things that you have to work out when self-publishing).

You also have the benefit of a team of trouble shooters that you can contact for information/advice.

But, expect sales calls for ever, asking you to buy copies of your book, or wanting you to sign up to further packages.

Another plus is that you retain the rights to your book, and to the cover images if you designed it yourself. This means that if you wish to republish anywhere else, you can.

Most vanity publishers also take a little nip out of your royalties, so again check the fine print before signing.


Independent Publishing - Self-Publishing

If you go down the independent publishing route, you will bear the brunt of all publishing and design costs yourself, but you will receive 100% of the sales too. You will retain all rights to your book and any images or designs if you produced these yourself.

You will have complete autonomy over your book, BUT the advice is that even if you are self publishing, you should spend some money on a professional Editor for quality control purposes.

The downside is that, you will have to work out all the technicalities yourself and do all your own marketing.


Independent Publishing. Amazon, or Ingram Spark?

,Amazon and Ingram Spark are the two key players in the Independent publishing world. Both have their benefits. This article isn't and in depth look at Indie publishing, but briefly:

Amazon:

One huge benefit is that you can publish with Amazon for FREE, so if you have absolutely no money to get your book out there, this is a good option.

To recoup costs, Amazon will take a 30% royalty, but that's not too bad.

Amazon is huge, it sells more books than anyone else, so you have a big market.

It's also quick, you can publish within a few hours, which is great.

You can easily publish with Kindle and Audible too.

Amazon will provide you with an ISBN for your book, free of charge. This is where there is a little sticking point. Amazon states that your book will be available to all book stores, which it is. However, book stores cannot survive unless they can take their books on a 'sale or return' basis. Amazon does not allow returns, so, unfortunately, a book with an Amazon ISBN is not going to be stocked in stores (Just by scanning the barcode, the book store can tell whether, or not returns are allowed). If you wished to order your book through a high-street book store, they should obtain it for you, but they just won't keep it in stock.


Ingram spark:

You have all the benefits of complete autonomy over your book, but Ingram will charge a fee for publishing your book. You will have to buy your own ISBN for the book, but this will allow for returns, so your book will be available in stores.

There are many other publishers out there and it would be worth doing a thorough investigation before starting on the indie path. You may find an indie publishing company that allows you to mix and match with packages, to keep costs down.



Decision Time

In short, there are benefits and risks with each model. It pays to research well and weigh up what your primary goal would be.

With each model you will be expected to do the majority of book marketing yourself, even if you go with a traditional publisher, but marketing your book merits an article of its own.


Archie Parchie Piddley Poo

He lay on his back....and stared into space.  He wriggled his bum...and pulled a face.  He gave a long yaaawn and stretched out his paws. Then rose to his feet and went indoors
He lay on his back....and stared into space. He wriggled his bum...and pulled a face. He gave a long yaaawn and stretched out his paws. Then rose to his feet and went indoors | Source

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    • lifewellspoken profile image

      lifewellspoken 

      8 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 

      8 years ago from Dartmoor

      Thanks Ingenira - maybe someone will write one soon.

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 

      8 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 

      8 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 

      8 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 

      8 years ago from Dartmoor

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

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 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 

      9 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 

      9 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 

      9 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 

      9 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 

      9 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 

      9 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 

      9 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 

      9 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 

      9 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 

      9 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 

      9 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 

      9 years ago

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

    • Gilo profile image

      Gilo 

      9 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 

      9 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 

      9 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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