How Can I Publish My Book … what are my options

All that hard work…

Whenever I’m approaching the end of a book edit, most of my clients begin asking me the question, ‘How can I publish my book?’

So … that precious manuscript of yours that took you months, maybe years, to write, has now been professionally edited, and you’re ready for the next step.

This blog does not pretend to go into all the possible publishing options that exist. Nor is it a comprehensive go-to of publishing. The purpose of the blog is to give you a boost in the right direction so you can begin thinking about those next steps, and about what option suits you and your book best.

e-book or print book?

This is your first consideration. So how do you know whether it’s better to produce your book as an e-book or a print book?

Cost of publishing

Arguably, cost is one of the biggest determiners as clearly, there are no printing costs associated with producing an e-book. Also, you don’t have to consider book storage as you do when producing a print book, a factor many first-time authors overlook. Do you have storage space for 100+ books in your house?

how can I publish my book

Where will you store your books?

Type of book

The type of book you have written may determine whether it will sell better as an e-book or a print book. For example, a coffee table style book, while expensive to produce, is designed to be picked up and looked at, rather than read on a device. Having said that, however, my daughter has now written and published two vegan cookbooks as e-books. They contain colour photos on almost every page, she has received positive feedback and she is happy with the sales to date. Her readers are clearly happy to follow recipes on a device rather than from a traditional paper cookbook. Check out her books here: The Hippie Cook Cookbook.

Audience

If the potential audience of your book is not tech-savvy, you are likely to sell more copies of a print book. Nevertheless, with so many people having now joined the digital age regardless of stage of life, the tech-savvy population is on the increase so this may not be such a big consideration.

How can I publish my book? Should I try mainstream or subsidy publishing, a literary agent, or self-publishing?

how can I publish my book

This is the next big consideration: deciding whether to make submissions to publishers and literary agents, to contact a subsidy publisher and try for a publishing contract, or to self-publish your book.

Mainstream publishers

The first thing you need to know about publishing with a mainstream publisher is that they call the shots. You don’t just walk into a publishing company office with your manuscript proudly tucked under your arm and ask for the editor. Neither can you get the name of the submissions editor and address a personal request to them.

(That is, unless you know someone who knows someone and can get an introduction to the submissions editor in the publishing house. But even that, of course, is no guarantee. They then have to approve your book, and it has to fit with their current publishing list.)

No. You have to join the ranks of all those other author hopefuls and follow the publishing house online submission guidelines – to the letter, to stand any chance at all of your manuscript even being read. And that’s only when they are accepting unsolicited manuscripts. An unsolicited manuscript is yours and mine: the publisher hasn’t asked to see it; you are essentially cold-calling them with your manuscript.

The times that a publisher accepts unsolicited manuscripts may change. For example, up to just a few months ago here in Australia, there were four mainstream publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts. Currently, there are only three. You will find them by clicking on this link (they are listed towards the end of that blog). Also, there are often specific days, with a cutoff time, that they accept these manuscripts,

(For help doing publisher submissions, click here.)

Subsidy publishers

With subsidy publishing, the author contributes to the cost of producing the book (the publishing costs), and the publisher assumes responsibility for editing the book and for all aspects of producing the book. They also have channels for distributing the book. A reliable subsidy publisher is worth gold. An ethical subsidy publisher in Queensland is Zeus Publications. Click here for links to their story, and for new author information.

I’ve also had a good report from a client about another Queensland subsidy publisher called Odyssey Books. I did find it disconcerting that there was no number to call on their website – you have to submit a query on their online form.

Literary agents

Literary agents work in a similar way to publishing houses. They accept certain types of manuscripts only, and like publishers, may only accept unsolicited manuscripts at certain times. Some may not accept unsolicited manuscripts at all. Please click here to find two links to Australian literary agents.

(For help making submissions to literary agents, click here.)

Vanity publishers

I have one word to say if you are considering a vanity publisher: DON’T. To read a sage article on why to avoid vanity publishing, click on the following link that ends in the word ‘beware’ to see what the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) has to say.

Self-publishing

The stigma of the self-published author has disappeared, and it is possible to be very successful indeed in promoting and selling your book. I have a client in Baltimore who, in September 2018 alone, sold 7,000 copies of her book Sidelined: The Penalty on Amazon! Check out this amazing lady who works full time yet has now written and published two books: Bianca Williams Books.

What a self-publisher isn’t

Let’s start with what self-publishing isn’t! Many organisations that have set themselves up as author services’ businesses erroneously call themselves self-publishers. It is a contradiction in terms.

What is self-publishing?

The reflexive ‘self’ in the word means that you, the author, are also the publisher of your own book. You write the book, and you publish it.

This means that you buy the ISBN and the bar code for your book, and register it with the national and state libraries (the latter is free in Australia). You also need to get a book designer to lay out your book using book layout software, and have a cover designed. You are in full control of how your book looks (within the limits of what is possible), and are responsible for distribution and promotion. You can also set and control the price of your book. If you list your book on major databases such as Amazon, however, you lose control of the pricing but gain a worldwide audience.

Promoting and distributing your book

Promoting and distributing books, including via your own website and social media,  is a whole topic on its own, which I plan to discuss in the future. Watch this space!


Hopefully, you are now a little more informed than at the beginning of this article when you asked, ‘How can I publish my book?’


Please contact me for more in-depth information and pricing for any of the following services:


I invite you to download my self-published eBook – see cover below. Click here to download. Enhance your writing technique and skills! Learn how easy it is to self-publish your book!

book cover gail tagarro author

How to Get Your Book Published

 

If you’ve been wondering how to get your book published, first-time writers will find in this article down-to-earth, practical advice and suggestions to help them overcome the publishing hurdle.

how to get published, advice for first-time writers on getting published

How to Get Your Book Published: Top Tip

Finish your Book First

Publishers and editors don’t have time to hear about great ideas. They need something they can sell. Do yourself a favour: finish your book before you even think about approaching a publisher or an agent.

Take a Break

Once you’ve finished writing your book, set it aside for a week. This is a piece of advice I often give writers, and it invariably works for them. Put your manuscript in a drawer. Forget it for the week. Go dancing. Go skiing. Go to the beach. Treat your girlfriend / boyfriend / husband / wife / partner / family to dinner to thank them for not having seen you in two years. After a week’s break, you’re likely to experience a ‘Eureka’ moment or ‘aha!’ effect. You’ll come to your writing with fresh eyes. You’ll have the distance, the objectivity, to see things you didn’t notice before. I find this works just as well for me when I am editing a manuscript or doing a manuscript appraisal. I go away from the book for an hour, and while I’m doing some unrelated activity (be it mundane or exciting), I’ll think of something that didn’t occur to me when I had the manuscript on the screen in front of me.

Revise

Now is the time to revise revise revise. This may sound brutal after the hours, months or years of work you’ve put into your book, BUT YOU MUST REMEMBER – YOU HAVE PRODUCED A FIRST DRAFT. Congratulations. It’s a huge achievement. Now is the time for rewriting. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to rewrite the entire book. Some authors have been known to abandon their first book, to look upon it as an apprenticeship in writing. Writing is a skill that takes years to develop to the level of being published. The odds are unlikely that the first draft of any manuscript is up to scratch – even that of a professional author. Heed the words of Australian author Ian Irvine in his article The Truth about Publishing: Part 1 Getting There: “Most writers work for 5-10 years before getting their first book published (my first took 9 years).”how to get your book published, revise, rewrite, first draft

In How to get your First Novel Published, Australian author Jackie French has this to say: “Rewrite it, and be really honest about it yes, of course you can damn well make it better, and I don’t just mean changing the odd word. The first four chapters almost certainly need rewriting to really drag the reader into the narrative so they can’t bear to leave it…Not prepared to do this? Then go no further. Literary honesty is the most important attribute of a writer – the ability to accept [that] your work can always be improved, and invariably needs to be.”

During your revision or rewrite, ask yourself these questions, and more:

  • Have I hooked the reader from paragraph one, chapter one?
  • Am I engaging the reader throughout the book? Do my chapters begin and end on a high note to tempt my reader to keep reading? If I wasn’t the writer, would I want to read this book?
  • Are my characters believable?
  • Are my characters’ actions consistent with how I’ve portrayed them?
  • Have I committed the novice writer’s offence of overusing descriptive passages to captivate my readers, instead of focusing on writing an engaging story?
  • Am I trying too hard? Write to express, not to impress.
  • Do I have a good balance between narrative and dialogue?
  • Does the story flow, or does it get stuck in parts?
  • Do I need to prepare a time line to ensure that all the events tie up at the end?
  • Does my book have a satisfying ending?
  • Have I used the spell checker and grammar checker, to check for technical inaccuracies?

Have your Manuscript Professionally Assessed

The role of an editor is not to rewrite your manuscript. If this is what you want then you need to seek the services of a ghost writer.

If you are a novice writer with your first book, and you’re not confident that your book is in good enough shape for editing let alone presenting to a publisher, it is often a good idea to have your manuscript professionally assessed first. An edit will correct obvious errors, but if the book is structurally flawed, then having it edited won’t mean it will be published.

A manuscript assessment will help you focus on the areas that need attention. A professional manuscript appraisal takes into account not just making your book ‘better’. In addition to crafting a great story and being technically accurate (spelling, grammar and the like), when you are serious about getting published, you also need to focus on creating a product that has market value.

Have your Manuscript Professionally Edited

After you have finished your rewriting, and had a manuscript assessment completed if that was necessary, it’s then time to have your manuscript professionally edited so that it is fit for submission to a publisher.

Refer to the blog post on the different types of editing (structural editing, copy editing, proofreading) as to the type of edit best suited to your manuscript.how to get your book published, revise, rewrite, first draft, professional editing

Take notice of Ian Irvine under his heading ‘Your editor is wise and you are foolish’: “Don’t believe all that nonsense…about books not being edited any more. My editors put many weeks of work into each of my books, and always have. One of the best things about being published is having the opportunity to craft and polish your work with the aid of an experienced, sensitive professional.  Editors…know a lot more about writing and the marketplace than you do, and they’re usually right. Consider carefully every point your editor makes. Where you reject an editorial suggestion, make sure there’s a good reason for it. I would agree with 9 out of 10 suggestions my editor makes. If you’re rejecting most of them, you’ve got a problem. In rare cases an editor may be wrong for your book, but more likely the problem is that you can’t accept criticism. Beginning writers have less leeway than established ones. An established writer can ignore most of her editor’s suggestions and still be published (though few would be so unprofessional). A novice who does so may never be published. If your editor tells you to cut your 1000 page manuscript to 500 pages, do it. Cutting a long book almost invariably makes it better. Big books cost a lot more to edit, print and distribute, but a publisher can’t charge much more for them. That’s OK if they’re by a bestselling author, but it’s a recipe for losing money if they’re the work of a novice.”

Listen to what the professionals say about your work. Don’t listen – necessarily – to friends and family. On the odd occasion, they may be right but let’s face it, they’re not professionals in editing, writing or publishing. Take their opinion – because this is all it is –gracefully, but not seriously. As Ian Irvine says, by heeding the advice of professionals, “If you do have talent…you’ll immediately have an edge over most of your competitors, because few unpublished writers are really willing or able to act on criticism.”

Don’t be discouraged by your editor’s changes and comments. They are only helping you to improve the manuscript.

Present your Manuscript Professionally

As a professional editor, I often need to spend considerable time not just editing but formatting a manuscript. This is no problem, but you may save your editor time (and therefore yourself money) by setting up your page correctly before you start writing. The basic setup isn’t difficult. For Australian writers, set up your page as A4 size, lines double spaced, font Times New Roman 12 point, wide margins. Add automatic page numbers. You may need to adjust formatting slightly for each publisher, however this is a fairly standard setup. Never, ever use manual line returns. You’re using a computer, not a typewriter. A single space between sentences is also standard. Of course, your editor can make these changes for you, but if you format the manuscript correctly first, then you will save editing fees.

To find out more, download this file. Bottom line: if your manuscript makes it to a publisher, they will only look at it if it has been professionally edited and is professionally presented.

Approach the Right Publisher for your Genre

Make sure to submit your manuscript to the right publishing company. Do they publish books in your genre? What are their submission guidelines? As Jackie French says, “Go to a bookshop. Have a look at six books of the same genre as yours. Write down the publisher’s address.”

Take advantage of the great resources available to writers to help with getting their work published, such as The Australian Writer’s Marketplace, The Australian Society of Authors, and writing guilds (there is one in every state).

Your research needs to focus not just on the industry, but also on the market you are trying to sell your manuscript to.

Literary Agents

Jackie French humorously advises, “Don’t bother looking for an agent unless you are already famous or the Duchess of Windsor. Most agents only take work from those who have already been published. But if you know one socially – or you ARE the Duchess of Windsor or have any other reason a publisher or agent will pick you up even though you haven’t had anything published, go to it.”

There are a few publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts  (see next heading). If you want to try a publisher who does not, having an agent is the best approach. If you are an unpublished author and don’t have strong connections in the industry, this may be challenging. Nevertheless, agents are just people, like you and me, and it’s worth a shot. One of my clients recently decided she was going to be represented by a well-known agent who is incredibly hard to track down. Well, she tracked her down, and now she’s being represented by her. These things can happen. Like publishers, agents vary in their submission criteria. Some accept unsolicited manuscripts; others don’t. Read their guidelines carefully.

Here is a list (not exhaustive) of Australian literary agents: https://austlitagentsassoc.com/ And click here for another website listing 19 Australian literary agents (some agents appear on both lists).

Mainstream Australian Publishers who accept Unsolicited Manuscripts

The mainstream publishers who currently (as at February 2019) accept unsolicited manuscripts are:

Let us know how we can help you get your book published, no matter where you are with your manuscript or what editorial service you may need. If you’re not sure, just ask. We’re a friendly lot!


I invite you to download my self-published eBook “Ten Ways to Super-Charge Your Writing! With bonus chapter on Self-Publishing”