1. Are you sure you’re ready to think about trying to get your book published? Have you spent at least 10,000 hours practicing your writing? That means five years of full-time effort. Or ten years of twenty hours a week. Or twenty years of ten hours a week. Most writers complete eight or more novels before they write a good one. Do you read at least a book a week of the type you aspire to write? Do you have a critique group, a bunch of tough critics ready and willing to rip your work to shreds? If the answer to any of those questions is no, you’re not ready. Focus on improving your craft. Worry about publishing later.
2. Money flows from the publisher to the author. That bears repeating: money flows from the publisher to the author. Anyone who wants to charge you to read your manuscript is scamming you. Real publishers don’t advertise looking for manuscripts–they receive more than they can read. All the ads you see online with come-ons like “Get Published Now” or “We Want Your Novel” are scams. Real publishers don’t require you to buy copies of your own book, copies of the anthology you’re published in, or to contribute to marketing costs.
3. You can try finding a traditional publisher, or you can self-publish. Both are fine. Self-publishing inherently costs very little–you can publish on major e-book platforms for free. Doing a great job of self-publishing your work can be quite expensive. Author Linda Poitevin breaks down the $943 that she spent to self publish her novel Gwennyth Ever After here. I spent roughly $713 self-publishing DARLA’S STORY ($400 for the cover, $250 for someone to do the formatting, layout, design, and uploading, and $63 for copy-editing). That pretty much exhausts what I know about self-publishing, so I’m not going to write any more about that.
4. To get traditionally published, you need to complete and polish your novel. When it’s totally ready, start sending out query letters to literary agents. Nathan Bransford offers a useful overview of the publishing process and some good advice on how to write a query letter. Actually, his whole blog is useful. Read all the Publishing Essentials posts linked in the sidebar.
6. More questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.