Writers help writers! As I sold my first preorder yesterday, I wanted to pass on some useful information on the publishing process and share some helpful links that guided me on my journey.
First, let’s go over some definitions.
A traditional publisher is a publisher that charges you absolutely nothing throughout the process. When they acquire your book, they pay you an advance, and help distribute, sell, and promote your book. You have a certain percentage of royalties from books sold and do not usually retain rights to your book, thus relinquishing the creative process.
A hybrid publisher makes you pay a fee, but helps promote your book. It’s halfway between a vanity publisher and a traditional publisher. An example of this is Greenleaf Publishing.
A vanity publisher makes you pay exorbitant fees to create an inferior product. They make you pay for copies of your book that you must sell yourself. You do not have rights to your book. Vanity publishers do not help promote your book, nor do they have no connections to distributors or retailers.
Self-publishing is the DIY route. The most famous is Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. There are some vanity publishers preying on writers as self-publishing firms. Save your money and hire a freelance editor and book designer, have a beta reading team, and social media. There is out of pocket for self-publishing, but it is significantly less than hybrid or vanity. There is only out of pocket depending on your skill set (for example, you are a graphic designer, work for a PR firm, etc.) but always hire an editor. This route can also be completely free if you completely DIY with Kindle Direct Publishing.
Agents are people who pitch your book to traditional publishers. Most of the time an author will need an agent to get inside a traditional publisher. Legitimate agents do not charge to read your work.
Beta Readers are people you trust who routinely read your work before you send it anywhere to critique it. The more Beta Readers you have, the better off you are.
Query letters are like cover letters about your book sent to agents and publishers. They are one page and contain a synopsis of the book and your marketability.
Book proposals are documents including the book’s synopsis, market research, your author bio, and a few sample chapters. These are typically for nonfiction books only.
ARC Readers read your book once finished before it launches with the expectation they will leave a review.
Never pay to have someone publish or read your work!
The Big List of Links for First Time Authors
A professional organization of writers who gather to discuss the craft of writing and the publishing industry. This is useful for self-publishers as well as those going the traditional route. They do charge fees, so check out the link below.
Writer’s League of Texas Free YouTube Videos
Search Engine for Finding Legitimate Agents and Publishers
QueryTracker is a powerful tool that sorts through agents and publishers. Under each profile are more links to further your research. Always do your research before submitting to a publisher!
Writer’s Digest is a treasure trove for those out on the hunt. You can do market research, learn new writing techniques, and figure out how to draft the perfect query letter or book proposal. They offer a query letter editing service for a fee. This is the only time I suggest paying someone to read your work, other than hiring an editor.
Kindle Direct Publishing
The world’s biggest self-publishing hub. It’s a little clunky and hard to use, but they have a 24/7 helpline that calls you in one minute after you submit a help request.
For a high quality, affordable editor I recommend Liz Dexter at LibroEditing. She is UK based, but is fine for US based writers too. The biggest issue with self-publishing being a money pit is the editor. Liz went through my manuscript fast and did a great job at a price I could afford. Many freelance editors may put your book on the back burner and not get to you for 3-5 months, if at all. If you desire quality, speed, and a low price, I recommend Liz.
Jasmine Lopez-Hipolito has a great design background. She is a recent grad working at the very affordable rate of $10/hr and will negotiate with you. Her artwork is gorgeous, as I linked to her portfolio above.
How to Sell Your Books
Kindlepreneur is a fantastic resource for drafting a marketing plan. They are a treasure trove of information. It’s worth it to give them your email, download PublisherRocket, and get VIP access to articles and videos.
ARC Readers are people who read your book for free before it comes out with the promise of leaving a review. ARC stands for Advance Reader Copies. I use BookSprout, which you can use for free at the 20 ARCs level, linked above. You will have to advertise and gather your 20 ARCs, so as soon as you begin your marketing campaign and the book is complete, take thyself to social media and emailing lists. There are other ARC websites where you can pay to guarantee someone reads, and this is the only other time I suggest paying for a reader if you can swing it. However, I’m keeping a budget in mind as I put this listicle together.
I hope you all found this helpful, and happy writing!