Laptop, coffee, pajamas, more coffee….that is some of what it takes for me to sit my butt in the chair and write. So say you are now finished with your manuscript (MS), one, three or ten years later. How do you prepare that MS for publication? Pat Fry of S.P.A.W.N (info below) has written since 1973 and has hundreds of magazine articles and 33 books to her name. I think she’s qualified to tell us how we can do that. Her introductory line, “Publishing is not an extension of your writing. It’s a business and fiercely competitive,” got my attention. So you finished your manuscript, now what?
These are your choices: The big 6 publishing houses, small presses or choosing the booming industry of self publishing or as she called it, the ‘pay for publishing.’ (I’ll call it P4P). But first, be aware of the daunting 2009 USA stat which cites 76% of all published books fail. Failure is defined as selling 100 copies or less. Over 1 million books are published per year, yes per year. The Big 6 and their subsidiaries published 288 thousand, with 756 thousand self published. There are more than 90 thousand P4P’s. You want to be in that 24% who publish, right, so how do you decide?
First, what is your genre and how does it fit into the big 6 or small presses? Pick up a book in the genre you’ve written, look inside for the publisher and determine if your MS falls into their scheme of things. Second, find an agent. Many writer’s found an agent by participating in writer’s conferences, use http://www.allconferences.com or http://writersconf.org to find conferences. They often have a pay for review of pages workshop where you can meet face to face with an agent. Get a referral from an associate. Another source is from blogs. Follow agent or publishers blogs (I follow three) to see what they’re about and whether you want to send them a query. They all have instructions on how to send the query and what genre they accept.
Let’s say you’ve decided to go with a P4P. Don’t just Google ‘self publishing’ (remember there are thousands of them). A book by Mark Levine, “The Fine Print of Self Publishing,” is now in its 3rd Edition. He lists the outstanding ones (Aventine Press, Booklocker, and 8 more), then the good, the bad, and the ugly (Authorhouse, Publish America, Trapper, and more). I’m sure Amazon has more of the same type of books.
Finally, educate yourself about the business of publishing: read, read, read. A place to check, or a ‘warning site’ for unscrupulous publishers are: http://www.writersweekly.com/whispers_and_warnings.php, http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware or for specific companies or individuals use Google, keyword ‘warning’ plus name of person or company.
Bottom line, Pat says, you have to approach the publication of your finished MS like a business person with a business plan. Daunting yes, but very important if you want to be in the 24%. The workshop was valuable and I’d probably go to another one just for the educational refresher. But for now, excuse me, I have to go brew another pot of coffee.
Pat is the President of Small Publishers, Artists & Writers Network (SPAWN): http://www.spawn.org and she owns Matilija Press in Ojai, CA.
Tomorrow I’ll go over the ‘Ten Best Ways to Promote Your Book’ also by Pat Fry. Until then,