It’s not often that you get to meet one of your idols. I met one of mine this weekend: Stephen King.
I got a news letter not too long ago announcing that he would be receiving the Mason Award in Virginia for the Fall for the Book Festival. It also mentioned that he would be singing books afterwards. Well, when I heard that I SOWISA (a little King humor) and secured two tickets.
And along with those tickets . . .
the GOLDEN TICKET which allowed the holder to receive one autograph. I actually had no idea you needed one of these puppies until I got it in the mail. Apparently only 400 out of the 1,500-some-odd fans received them. Guess I got lucky.
With that said, I attended the event, met Stephen King, shook his hand, thanked him for being an inspiration, got the first book I ever read of his (The Shining) signed, and called it a day.
Did I mention that he read from an upcoming novel called Dr. Sleep, a sequel to The Shining that follows Danny Torrance in the later years of his life? No? Well, he did. And for those of you that want to check it out, here it is:
So, you wrote a novel. Now what?
Well, obviously the next step is to get it published. But how do you do that? Is it hard? How long will it take? How much money will you make? By the end of this post, you’ll have all the answers.
Just like in real life, it helps if you know someone in the publishing industry. But don’t worry, if you don’t, that’s okay! Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
There are two methods you can go about publishing your book. The first is publishing in the traditional manner through one of the Big Six publishers (Random House, Penguin Group, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins). The second is self-publishing.
Let’s take a look at the traditional method first:
In order to get published by one of the Big Six publishers, you have to first (almost 99% of the time) find a literary agent to represent your manuscript. The agent’s job is to sell your manuscript to a publisher. Today, these publishers won’t even open their emails or snail-mail submissions if they’re not sent by an agent. Bummer, right?
To get a literary agent, you have to look online at http://www.agentquery.com/ or in a book like Literary Marketplace (available at Barns and Noble and other retail locations) for an agent that accepts submissions in your genre. There’s a different literary agent for each genre of writing. Crazy, right? So, if you write Fantasy, you need to find someone who represents Fantasy. You’ll only be wasting your time if you submit to an agent that doesn’t represent your genre.
To submit to a literary agent, you have to “query” them, which is just writer jargon for sending them a synopsis of the novel, the first few chapters, and a little blurb about yourself, along with any possible writing credentials (magazine sales, etc.) you may have. Be alert, and don’t be lazy! Don’t just change their name and send every agent the same little query package. Each agent will ask for something different, and what they’re looking for can usually be found on the “submission guidelines” on their website.
Can you query more than one agent at a time? Again, check their guidelines. Most of the time, this is a yes. If not, it would take you FOREVER to find an agent. If they don’t address this question, do what you did back in school and assume that you’re allowed to. You only have to be careful when an agent asks you to send them the full manuscript. If this happens, and you would still like to query to other agents just in case, let those other agents know that your manuscript is being considered elsewhere.
So, how long does it take to get a literary agent? The honest answer is, it’s like winning the lottery: it varies. It could take months. It could take years. Agents receive hundreds of query submissions per month. Therefore—and this is the sucky part—a lot of them don’t care so much if the writing is good as opposed to if the author can sell themselves. If the author already has a massive following on tumblr, blogger, twitter, facebook, etc. then the literary agent will see the work as “sellable,” as will the publisher, and those authors will probably get published in the traditional method. (Check back for future posts on marketing tips.)
NOTE: A real literary agent will NEVER charge you to read your manuscript. If they do, they’re fake! Check to see if they are a member of the AAR http://aaronline.org/Find If they’re not, they’re probably not that good anyway.
If all goes well, typically a new author will receive a $5,000 advance for their book. Then the book will go into print. If it sells, it’ll stay on the shelf and probably sell to paperback (you get more money for that, too—a lot more!—not to mention a royalty per each copy sold), but if it doesn’t it’ll be taken off the shelf.
The second method to get published is through self-publishing.
In the past, self-publishing was frowned upon. It was considered the losers’ way out. Self-publishers were even called “vanity presses” because of it. However, with the advent of the digital revolution (Kindle, Nook, basically any e-reader) that’s all changing. Today there are over a million indie authors! And they’re selling their books like hotcakes!!!!!
Here’s why so many new authors are choosing self-publishing over the traditional model of publishing: More money, total control over book rights, and less headache. When an author publishes a book (for example, let’s use a paperback that sells for $7.99) through one of the Big Six publishers they only see about $0.70 cents for each copy sold. Sucks, right? That’s because there are so many middle men. There’s the publisher, the literary agent, the marketing dept., and a few others who have to take their cut. Then whatever’s left goes to the writer. And when the writer publishes through them they don’t even own the rights to their books anymore. The publisher does. Which means that the writer has no control over pricing, sales, etc. Plus, you have to deal with the editor, the copy editor, the line editor, the cover designer, as well as the marketing department. All of whom you might bump heads with.
Yet, when you self-publish, the author is allowed to maintain all rights over their work. They are also allowed to set their own price, design their own cover art, and market their own book. If they publish their book for $7.99 through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) or Pubit! (Nook) they get $5.59 for each copy sold. Amazon and B&N only take out 30% for each electronic sale, which is much better than the 70% the Big Six’s are taking out!
If the idea of doing all the work yourself is daunting, or if you want a paperback/hardcover copy of your book, there are some companies out there that will help you for a price. Just remember, and here’s the main difference between the two methods of publishing: The traditional method pays you for your novel. With self-publishing, you pay them. The only way you can avoid paying is if you publish through KDP or Pubit!, both of which are absolutely free (KDP and Pubit! only take a percentage for each book sold, no upfront costs).
are two companies, among many, that will edit your book, help you design a cover, and will publish it as both an ebook and a paperback/hardcover. They’ll even make the paperback available through Barnsandnoble.com, Amazon.com, and any book store (the book stores won’t stock it on their shelves like they would stock a book from a Big Six publisher but a customer could still walk in and order it).
Just be careful, though, because by going through one of these companies you are creating a middle man and will force the cost of each book you print to rise. If you want to avoid them, you can go straight to a book printer/print on demand distributor like www.48hrbooks.com or www.lighteningsource.com that will do the same thing without that middle-man cost. You just have to do the legwork yourself.
So basically you have a bunch of options. The traditional method is very time-consuming, you get a lot of rejections, and it’s not for the impatient or the light-hearted. But you don’t have to pay any upfront fees, and they do all the marketing for you. If you don't mind the headache and think you wrote the next Twilight series, or if you think you're the next J.K. Rowling(you might be, you never know) then by all means this is the method for you. But if you think you may have a knack at marketing, are goal-oriented, and want to maintain all the rights to your books, by all means go the indie rout and self-publish! As the saying goes, the world is your oyster!