Publishing a book: Part 1 – traditional publishing house

Last week, I wrote the steps for writing a novel. This week I wanted to address what to do with that completed novel.

So you have completed your novel and are ready to publish it. What do you need to do now?

Alternatively, if you are planning to write a non-fiction book, you may want to look for a publisher ahead of time. Why spend the time writing the book if no one wants yet another book on pregnancy, exercise or whatever topic you pick? But if you have a non-fiction book with a fresh angle, you may find a publisher who encourages you to write.

When looking into publishing you have two options – go the traditional route of finding a publishing house (or an agent and then a publishing house) or the decision to self-publish.

Because these are two totally different routes, I will address them separately. First let’s look at traditional publishing.

Traditional publishing is where a company buys the rights to an author’s manuscript. Usually, an agent representing the author, negotiates a deal with the book publisher for the publisher to print and distribute the book.

The first step would be to research the publishing company or agent to make sure they publish the type of book that you are writing. You can also find out the guidelines to contacting them on their website.

If you hire an agent, they will use their contacts and knowledge of the publishing world to match your writing with a publishing house. Or you can contact the publishing house directly though you will probably have a better success if you have an agent.

Fiction Books

Once your book is complete, you will send a query letter, a sample of your writing and a synopsis to the publisher per their requirements. It doesn’t help your case to send more than what is required.

Non-Fiction Books  

You need to submit a book proposal that includes the proposed chapters and a sample of your writing. You would need to explain your expertise in the area.

Remember that both agents and publishing houses receive thousands of query letters and manuscripts each year. Some may send back a stock rejection letter but there are quite a few that won’t respond at all.

If you are lucky enough to get a contract from a publisher, they will then have their in-house editors work with you to refine your writing. They will be in charge of the marketing, distribution and warehousing of your book.

The benefit of traditional publishing is no out-of-pocket expense to the author. The publisher will make their money from the sale of the book. But the chance of getting published traditionally is hard and time consuming. You can send out many query letters, and months or years later you can be no closer to getting published. Many famous authors were rejected many times before finally became published.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to go the traditional road and be published by a major publishing house. But that is a hard road so many authors choose to self-publish their own work. I will address the steps of self-publishing next week.

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