Publishing Options for your Novel

This post is the thirty-seven in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

We have covered writing and editing your book. But you aren’t done yet. You still need to publish and market your book. And those are the topics we are going to cover over the next few weeks.

But before we begin, I want you to caution you to make sure your book is ready to be published. As authors, we are sometimes under pressure to get out another book or you are just so excited and ready to publish your first book that you are in a hurry to get it out there.

Let me say this clearly – Don’t rush through the editing process.

It can take countless hours to weed out the inconsistencies, fix timelines, refine word choices and do all the other editing jobs that need to be done before you publish. So, don’t rush and publish a mediocre story. Take your time to rewrite, to edit, to polish and to proof your novel until it is ready for all those hungry readers out there.

Ok, so you believe you are there. It is ready to be published. There are two options for you. You can go through a traditional publishing house or decide to self-publish.

Traditional Publishing Houses

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 have written or are writing.

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.

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.

The benefit of traditional publishing is there is no out-of-pocket expense to the author. The publisher will make their money from the sale of the book. But they select so few authors that you may send out many query letters, and months or years later be no closer to getting published. Many famous authors were rejected many times before finally landing a book deal.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to go the traditional road and be published by a major publishing house. But it is a hard road so many authors choose to self-publish their own work.

Self-Publishing

As a self-published author, you have complete control over what you publish and when. You retain all rights to your book, and you receive 100 percent of the profit. The main drawback is that you have to do all the work and pay for any expenses yourself.

You have several options when it comes to self-publishing. You can opt to publish just an electronic copy of your book (an e-book), or you can actually print a physical copy, or you can do both.

Let’s look quickly at the options for physically printing a book.

Vanity

In this option, you pay for all the services to print your book but own the book and receive the profits. You are in charge of distribution. This is best for the hobbyist or those who just have a goal of seeing their work in print. (Hence the reason it is often referred to as a vanity press.)

Subsidy

While similar to a vanity press, a subsidy publisher contributes toward the cost of editing, distribution, warehousing and marketing of the book. Typically, the author pays for the printing and binding of the book and will receive royalties.

Print on Demand

This is a good option for someone with a limited audience. You use your own money to produce the book and then have a company (such as Amazon’s Createspace) print them one at a time as they are ordered. The plus is that you don’t have any books that you need to store.

Self-Publishing

You pay to produce, market and warehouse your books.

With all of these methods, the majority of the work and expense of publishing falls on the author’s shoulders. And as hard as it is to find a traditional publisher, it can be equally tough to find physical retail location that wants to showcase your new novel.

But often with today’s technology, many readers no longer buy physical copies of books. Many readers now have e-readers or e-reader apps so authors need to determine whether they even need physical copies of their books to sell.

Next week, we will look more into self-publishing an e-book.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud