You’ve written a book. Congratulations! It’s a big job; most writers give up on their novels about the time they reach chapter seven. Sticking it out to the end is an accomplishment to be proud of.
Now what do you do?
Writers are often shocked to realize writing the words THE END doesn’t mean their work is done. There are still things they need to do in order to make their dream of being published authors a reality. And there is a right way and a wrong way to do these things.
Here is where many writers flounder. Blame Hollywood—television and the movies glamorize the writing life. On film, Joe Writer finishes his novel, submits it to Major Publishing Company, gets offered a $50,000 cash advance, and is flown to New York to meet with his editor and polish the book. Once the book actually is released, he gets sent on a whirlwind book tour around the country, with stops at The Today Show and Oprah.
Reality check: the majority of new books published each year are published by small independent presses, not the major publishing houses. And small presses don’t normally have the resources to offer any cash advance at all, let alone one in the tens of thousands of dollars. Editing services are limited, once again due to budgetary constraints, and while many small presses are happy to help their authors find venues to do a book tour, you’ll have to foot the travel expenses yourself.
So why bother publishing with a small press? What’s in it for you, the author?
(1) First and foremost, you stand a much better chance of getting your book published. Major publishers rarely take a chance on unknown authors. For independents, unknown writers are their bread and butter.
(2) Independent presses are more personal. You’ll get to know your publisher, and they’ll get to know you.
(3) Many indies are reluctant to work with agents, so that cuts out the middleman—and the 15 percent of your royalties they’ll take before you ever see a check. No agent means you get to keep 100 percent of your hard earned royalties.
(4) Because they are small, an independent press is much more likely to work with you to get exposure for your books. One book fails for a major press and it’s not a big deal. One book fails for an independent, and it is sorely felt on their bottom line.
In my next post, I’ll talk about etiquette for authors: the right way—and the wrong way—to query a publisher.
Smoky Trudeau is the author of the newly released Observations of an Earth Mage, a collection of photos, essays, and poems celebrating our beautiful planet earth. She is also the author of two novels, Redeeming Grace and The Cabin, as well as two books for writers, Front-Word, Back-Word, Insight Out: Lessons on Writing the Novel Lurking Inside Your From Start to Finish, and Left Brained, Write Brained: 366 Writing Prompts and Exercises, all from Vanilla Heart Publishing. You can learn more about Smoky at www.smokytrudeau.com, or at her blog on Xanga, http://authorsmokytrudeau.xanga.com. You can also look her up on Facebook.