In a perfect world I wouldn’t have to worry over publishing my novel. After finishing my masterpiece, publishing houses would flood my house with calls. I wouldn’t have to worry over contacting an agent, who would ask for fifteen percent of all the money my book made. This isn’t a perfect world. There is an alternative to dealing with agents and big publishing houses. But is self-publishing too good to be true?
After a writer finishes with a manuscript, the traditional thing to do is search for an agent. Why? Editors of large publishing companies talk to agents. They sit down and have lunch with agents. They discuss clients that the agents represent. They discuss the books that those clients wrote. Business is done, and with time the client may see his product on the shelf at bookstores.
The first obstacle after finishing a manuscript is to find an agent that you can trust, and who has an open schedule. A list of agents can be found at Predators and Editors. There you can research agents, and find out what sort of writers they represent, and how credible they are. Unfortunately there are more scam artists, pretending to be agents, than there are actual agents. The only protection is to do the research.
It may take up all the time you have. You may loose sleep over it, just as you did when writing your book. You’ve come this far, though. You’ve finished your book, and there’s no going back. But is there an alternative?
With self-publishing you can cut the agents out of the picture. You won’t have to worry over being ripped off. You can assume more control over the sells of your product. The downside to this is you’ll have to assume control over the sells of your product. All of a sudden you are the business. You must promote your product.
With the advancements of the internet promoting yourself is easier than ever. However, making any money off your book will require a lot of hours and hard work. The sad part is, it will probably be even more difficult than finding a respectable agent.
So lets assume we go back, and find a respectable agent who will actually give us the time of day. More than likely, this person will ask you to send the first three chapters of your manuscript, a one-page synopsis, and a cover letter. After that, if things are still very promising, the agent will likely ask for the full manuscript.
After reading your work, the agent will likely send it back with marks all over it, pointing out changes that you should make. A strict and extensive revision may be in order. The agent may even refuse to represent you if you decline this advice. Once you make the changes, it is the agent’s duty to approach the different publishing houses.
This step is a lot like what you went through trying to find the right agent. Editors are busy dealing with many writers who want to be published. In addition to all the agents calling them, they also receive piles of manuscripts from writers who have no agents. These slush pile manuscripts are often given less consideration than agents are.
So after your agent meets an interested editor, most likely more changes to will be in order. After resubmitting a satisfactory manuscript to the publisher, it could take a year or more before the book is mass-produced and sold.
Because it is considered a shortcut, self published writers are not always considered published writers. Generally self-publishing is not as successful. Either way you go, you risk everything. Writing a book is like living. It is impossible to tell what will happen even after you’ve finished writing.
Don’t jump into anything. Research your options well. A dedicated writer will usually succeed. I plan to self publish. I also plan to begin my own publishing company. Still, there are risks. Nothing is certain, and I can only hope everything will go in my favor.