Writing a book is hard. It takes a lot of time, discipline, and then there are the revisions. But that may be the easiest part. Candidly, it is the only part I have already done, but I am about to launch into the publishing and marketing phases for my book, An Irreligious Faith. I did quite of bit if research before I decided how I would publish it and I have spent about three intense months studying how to market the book. I’ll get into marketing next week. This week we’ll look at some basic publishing needs.
There are three key assistants you will need to get your book to market, an editor, a cover artist, and a publisher.
Your editor is to your book what a producer is to a musical artist. The artist may have written a great song and may sing it beautifully, but it is the producer makes it a great record (mp3) that people will buy.
There are two types of editing, content editing and copy editing. In content editing, your editor will ask for further explanation, delete potentially offense or unnecessary material, be sure there is good support for what you say, and inject additional pertinent thoughts. Copy editing will deal with spacing, symmetry, grammar, and punctuation. I am glad somebody on my publishing team knows what a split infinitive is.
You will light years ahead to get an editor you know or one a friend recommends. Lots of honest interaction tempered with thoughtfulness is the kind of relationship you’ll want with your editor.
Professional editing can cost a lot of money. Another option is to find someone you know who is a good writer with an English or Journalism degree who will do a good job at a more reasonable rate. You’ll spend between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars for professional editing.
Most books are sold through Amazon or other online retailers. There are two things that people look at to decide if they will further investigate your book: the cover, which is displayed in postage stamp size and the number of stars your book has based on reviews. So, a clear, simple, compelling cover design is hugely important.
Again, I recommend an artist who you know or one who comes recommended by a friend. It will take a lot of time and back–and-forth to get the cover right, which requires patience on the part of both parties. An alternative is to sponsor a contest with the art department of a local college in which you pay the artist of the winning design a fee considerable less than a professional. Again, this will cost a few hundred bucks.
Traditional publishing involves obtaining a literary agent and writing a pitch letters sent along with a portion of your book to potential publishers. The agent gets twenty percent of the royalties from book sales. My understanding that it is difficult to obtain an agent who is taking on new clients and even more difficult to find a publisher for your book.
Publishers are concerned about the bottom line and typically only take projects where they know there is a huge demand. They are looking for authors who already have a platform with a large number of people following their work. You do get paid to write the book, but you sign over all control on the project, including the cover art, the title, and the editing. In a very real sense, it becomes their book, not yours.
All of that sounded less than desirable to me. So I began investigating self-publishing. There are lots of up sides. You keep rights to your book, have the final say on editing, the cover, and the title. You can get it to market in as quickly as you move through the process, as opposed to taking twelve to eighteen months with traditional publishing. The downside is it costs money to self-publish. I have taken a reasonably low budget approach and it will wind up costing about $1500.00.