It's a big question — would you tout your precious manuscript round a range of authors' agents, hoping it'll get snapped up? Maybe you should pitch your gem into the slush pile on a publisher's desk or brave the evolving world of self publishing? The answer depends on more than just your preference for the old school or new rules. Traditional publishing houses generally invest a lot in the authors they work with and want to see that there is a pipeline (or at least a potential pipeline) of future books coming from any new authors that they sign up. Publishing houses want to see a number of books from any one author, and to be publishing new works by those authors regularly, ideally over decades to come.
If you or your subject matter don't fit what a publisher is looking for then you may struggle to be picked up, regardless of how good your work is. Many in this position are turning to indy status and self-publishing. It's a far cry from the vanity publishing of the past and is a great new route for authors but it is worth exploring fully before you commit yourself. For starters, you might be surprised to learn what it costs to finance a successful, self-published book, and how the much the right decisions keep being needed as you go through the process.
So, who is making the right decisions and why? Well, if you're one of the many writers who get their creative fire lit by genres like romance, mystery/suspense/thriller, non-fiction or sic-fi then you could get a great result not just with self-publishing but by leaving the tree out of the process completely. Likewise, if you are already in the public eye or are known in your field of expertise and can make use of your connections to successfully market an ebook or a Print on Demand (POD) text, then you really can make the rules up as you go along. A hit e-book can fly off virtual shelves and will never clutter your space with unsold copies.
If you expect your book to be read by women under forty-five and with some tertiary education, then your chances of making the e-book market work for you rise still higher. Of course, this isn't brand new information and there are a host of "get rich quick" schools of thought out there (with pricey workshops in a city near you), but what these "write a bestseller this weekend" folk fail to explain is that you can put a combo of ingredients into the mix (choose 3 from; zombies, cats, vampires, teen lust, nazi extraterrestrials, mid-life crises, self-help, underdogs, golf and baking) but readers know what is properly entertaining to them, and that means, authentic writing that transports them, not something that's flung together crudely.
Whoever your ideal reader is, if you do your research, you'll find the right way forward: traditional publishing, self-publishing, ebook or POD. Your work might not be the literary equivalent of a 5 star round-world trip of a lifetime, but no one wants their creation to be received like a wet weekend jaunt to Slough, unless you're an erotic fiction writer and can turn a wet weekend into something jaw-dropping. Just steer clear of the cat-zombie-alien-lust golfers!
Spotlight Editorial offers indy authors a range of services, from the critique of a first draft to the comprehensive proofreading of a final manuscript. Advice on approaching agents, publishers and identifying the right self-publishing house is also available, along with project management of the publishing process.
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I'm Chris Bryce, writer, editor and proofreader. Do you think the difference between breathing and not breathing is the most important one there is? I do. I'm a big fan of breathing, smiling and meaningful communication in all its forms,