You’ve poured your heart and soul onto the pages of your book and now you’re hoping with everything you have that people will want to read your story and love it. But before they can, you have to publish it. This blog post will look at the different routes you can take to finally get your work on the market place.
Thanks must go to Lara Ann Dominick, JL Rothstein, Britt Weisrock, Elizabeth Russo, Jess Hardy and C. D’Angelo for hosting a panel of authors all willing to share their experiences of how they published their own books. After a 3 hour Zoom call that crossed International waters and pages of pencil written notes, I’m hoping to impart a little bit of their knowledge to you in case you are a budding novelist with a book up your sleeve.
Both Lara Ann Dominick and JL Rothstein are Self Published authors, they have slightly different experiences of starting the process and a ton of advice on how to do it. Lara had heard some misinformation regarding how long publishers take to get back to you after querying with them and so went straight down the Self Publishing route for her 1st book, Oil and Water. After writing an early draft of her book, JL initially sent queries to a plethora of publishers (I won’t say the exact number) to have only half return to her with rejections. She admits it was a fairly traumatic experience, that led to her putting her manuscript away for some time before getting it out and using it as the outline for the book she now has published, Atonement (Heaven Sent book 1). Lara and JL both admit that Self Publishing is hard work, there are pros but also a lot of cons.
- Self Publishing allows for you as a writer to keep complete control over your writing and your story.
- You have to do everything yourself, from finding cover artists, editors, to having to format your book for ebook and paperback, the outlay for ISBN numbers for selling your book and then the time and financial cost needed to market your book once it’s published.
- Not all Self Published authors out source for cover art designs, some have found friends on Twitter or other social media platforms to help them and then there are others who have learned how to do it themselves. The preference is yours. Remember though the more professional the cover art looks the more sales you’re likely to get.
- Marketing it seems is a full time job, getting your name out there on social media, making connections and networking is key to sales, this is something Lara and JL agree on. Some, paid for Ads, on other social media sites can been helpful but Twitter has been the major platform that they both use constantly to increase their presence in the Writing Community.
- Create slick Ads that you can confidently push out to engage readers as much as possible.
- Start promoting your book at least 6 months prior to publishing to get noticed
- Have a cover reveal to build suspense
- Include Teasers in your posts to get others invested and hooked in your characters
- Send out ARCs to gain reviews from reputable reviewers. Be wary of those who approach you asking for a certain amount of cash in exchange for reviews, find out first what they are willing to promote, some will offer you a refund if they do not think your book warrants a 4 or 5 star review. There are a ton of Book Bloggers and reviewers who will do this for free in exchange for a copy of your book.
- Reviews are important, with Amazon, the more reviews will increase your presence on their marketing site.
Jess K Hardy has a number of books that have been published, some through the Traditional Publishing route and others through Indie Presses. She advocates the Indie Publishing route as they allow for more control over your work. With Traditional Publishers once an author has signed a contract for a manuscript, they can find, they have little to no control over any changes to their writing and there can be quite significant changes if the publishers see fit. Jess reached out on Twitter and found an Indie Publisher, Evernight Publishing, who took on her novella, The Bench. She also has another book due out next year with another Indie Publisher, Black Rose Writing. They have made life much easier for Jess, Evernight Publishing took over the cover art, marketing and sending ARCs out for reviews. No significant changes were needed after sending the manuscript for editing. With this route though a large percentage of the profits go to the publishers. Jess does still find she spends some time marketing and networking on Twitter.
Britt Weisrock used Twitter’s ‘PitMad’ events as a way of finding her Independent Publisher. Twitter holds these events four times a year, where unrepresented authors can pitch their completed manuscript in a tweet of 280 characters. Agents and Editors then make requests by liking the tweet. I have yet to see this process and am eager for the next event in September to see how it works.
Britt says having a polished tweet, with her synopsis, and using comparisons to other well known stories of a similar genre was key to her finding her publisher on the first PitMad event that she tried. Britt’s publishers, Fyre Syde Publishing, have been very helpful and worked in partnership with her in getting her book, Triad, ready for it’s release next spring. Aspects such as cover reveals, editing, teasers, sending the book to Beta readers have all been discussed and as Britt admits she is a needy author, and has been very happy with the communication she has received from her publisher.
C D’Angelo, author of The Difference which is set to be published with Kindred Ink Press later this year has lots of advice on getting your ‘Pitch’ right to attract agents, publishers and editors. In only 280 characters you have to make sure your tweet is polished and focused on the ‘Problem and the Stakes’ in the story you want to publish. D’Angelo offers guidance to other authors with her ebook, Pitch Party Prosperity: A Writer’s Guide for Pitch Parties. She herself found her publisher through a Pitch Party, of which there are more than just the Twitter events. With PitMad, she suggests that if a publisher likes your pitch tweet that its a good idea to check them out and make sure they’ll be a good fit. There are lists out there of some who are perhaps not that legitimate, Writer’s Beware, is a good source for information on legitimate literary organisations.
When getting in touch with an agent or publisher it is important to include the tweet that they liked with your Query Letter. If you have checked them out you will know the right hook to use in your letter to link with what they are looking for. Elizabeth Russo, a Copy Editor and writer of short stories discussed how important it is to get your Query Letter right. You should include a brief about the book, similar to the pitch, include what the stakes are in the story, what will be lost if the problem isn’t solved. She explained that in order to put yourself out there it is necessary to expose yourself.
Elizabeth suggests that when sending out Queries to multiple publishers/agents that it is advisable to do it in batches of 10-20. This way when rejections are received (and they will be received) you can take any feedback, revise your manuscript and begin again. And the question of when to give up the search for a publisher and take the self publishing avenue? All agreed it was a completely personal decision to make but that just because your current book hasn’t been picked up to be represented it doesn’t mean another book you write will be the same.
One major point that all the authors made was the critical importance of getting your manuscript properly edited. You want your book to be the very best version of itself to be out there for the world to read and review. As a reviewer, I do notice very quickly those books that have not been through the editing process enough and it does put me off reading the story if there are numerous mistakes and glaring inconsistencies. It may be an expense but as JL Rothstein pointed out, you as an author, are promoting yourself as a professional writer and therefore should do your due diligence and publish only once you know your manuscript has reached a professional standard.
I will return with another blog that looks specifically at the editing process another time. In the meantime, I hope this blog has been of some help or interest in what it takes to get your book out into the big wide world.
Thanks again to all the panelists for letting me hop onto their Zoom call. It was a very insightful few hours.
Thanks for popping by.
The full length video of the Zoomcast can be viewed now along with a list of all the resources discussed.