Getting Real About Getting Published
By Penny C. Sansevieri
So you say you want to get published? Well, great! These days you have more options than ever to see your work in print. Whenever I teach at conferences I am always amazed at how many authors are still unaware of their publishing options. Today, more than ever, writers have the ability to take control of their writing future and get published...today!
How? Well, self-publishing for one. What? You don't want to self-publish. You're worried about the stigma attached to it? Did you know Mark Twain self-published his books? Didn't seem to hurt his career, did it? Ever heard of a little book called The Joy of Cooking? Yep, you guess it, self-published as well. Or how about the movie: Legally Blond? Yes, that's another success story. Whenever an author comes up to me and asks if there's anything wrong with self-publishing I always tell them "No, as long as it doesn't look self-published." Save the science projects for your kids, but make sure what you're publishing is nothing short of perfection.
Let's look at it this way: your book is your resume, it's your message to the world. Would you ever consider sending a resume that was less than perfect to a potential employer? I doubt it. So you should never consider sending your book out into the world unless it's ready for the intense scrutiny it may receive from your readership.
These days, we're dealing with a publishing market that seems to be shrinking by the second. In fact, did you know that 83% of the books published each year are put out by the five major publishing houses in New York and to add insult to injury only 1% of everything published in the U.S. each year by these five houses is by previously unpublished authors? Does this mean that there are fewer books worthy of publishing success? No way.
What this means is that publishers are no longer willing to take risks on unknown authors and untested topics. So, how can you beat them at their own game? By circumventing the traditional publishing model and taking your work through the process of self-publishing. Then, if you catch the eye of a traditional publisher you have a bit more bargaining power than you would, say, languishing in the slush pile. When traditional publishers pick up a self-published title, it eliminates a great deal of risk for them.
It’s by no means a sure thing, but when a self-published title is selling well a traditional publisher knows two things: they know they have an author who knows how to market their book, and they know they have a book that’s found an audience.
When it comes to self-publishing, you have a number of options. First, you can become your own publishing company, creating your own imprint and publishing your own work. The downsides to this are the funds needed to launch a company, design a book and run the first printing. This form of publishing is a good idea if you have a gift book or desire something other than a standard paperback format. The alternative is of course going print-on-demand. If you're unfamiliar with this form of printing then listen up: it's revolutionizing the publishing industry and leveling the playing field. Authors are no longer need to navigate a myriad of obstacles set forth by an elusive and often unforgiving industry; they can see their work published - sometimes in ninety days or less.
Now, for a minimal fee (usually from $499 to $1,500), you can see your book in print. Essentially, what you're doing is hiring a publisher to publish your book. They take care of the cover, the book interior, the ISBN, and the distribution. They are compensated for this by receiving a portion of the profits every time you sell a book. You are compensated through royalties and while these do vary, they typically fall somewhere in the 18-20 percent range per book. The great part about POD publishing is that the "on-demand" part enables them to print books as they are needed, meaning that someone (probably you) won't get stuck with a garage full of books you can't get rid of. If you only sell 100 books, that's what they'll print. There are no minimum orders, and your book will always stay in print.
Understanding how the publishing industry works will go a long way to helping you determine which publishing option is right for you. For some, the idea of POD or self-publishing will open doors you might not have otherwise considered. For others, the traditional route is the only way to go. In the end, the decision of how to publish is up to you but understanding and educating yourself to available options is your duty to yourself and your career. I encourage all of our yet-to-be-published readers to empower themselves and take control of their publishing future. Your dream of becoming published can now be a reality. It's up to you to make it happen!
Wishing you publishing success!