Publishing is what authors – who want to eventually publish – vaguely think about while writing their manuscript, and almost always dread. Most writers I know are introverts, so the thought of launching a book can be daunting. The publishing process is a totally unknown world. So how do writers get their books published?
Where to begin? Is it better to find an agent to pitch your book? Is it worth trying to catch the eye of a big publisher? What about royalties and creative control? Do you have what it takes to successfully publish independently? What about the horror stories of writers who sink a LOT of money into their book, and they never make that money back?
Confession time: I was one of those writers who first started writing with no awareness of what publishing might entail. In fact, publishing was such a distant dream that I didn’t spend much mental energy thinking about the process. Rather, I poured my heart and soul into writing what eventually became my memoir, The Chocolate Pilgrim. However, when what at first seemed a distant possibility shifted into reality, I realized I needed to start making some decisions if I was serious about launching a book.
As my memoir neared completion, I started to think about next steps. I’ll admit that this was not a comfortable topic. In fact, as my final revision was ready to send to my publisher for formatting, I became quite terrified. I had been writing for years, only sharing my words within a trusted group of other writers. Now I was supposed to release my words into the world? My guts twisted into knots every time I thought about strangers reading my words. There were times I soothed myself by saying, “You’ve learned enough by writing this memoir. You really don’t need to publish.” But my strong desire to publish a book kept me going, along with my trusted writing group members. It’s almost as if my brain split into two parts. I knew I wanted to independently publish. The rational part asked a lot of logistical questions I had no answers for. How much will it cost? How do I decide which company to choose? Will I have to do all my own marketing? If you’re reading this post, you probably have questions of your own. Take note of them!
For most writers, the transition from writing alone to sharing with others is a gigantic leap. In my writing circles, we practice reading our words aloud to supportive listeners, who have been coached to listen for what’s strong in our writing. This is for a very important reason: When we launch our words into the world, we become even more vulnerable to the responses of readers. However, when you practice sharing, receiving feedback, trusting that your writing will land with the people meant to hear your words, and not taking things personally BEFORE publishing, the whole publishing process becomes easier. You can launch your book from a place of self-confidence. One of my writing clients shared this observation:
“I used to write all alone. Writing in a small, trusted group is much better because it provides a safe space to share my vulnerabilities before anything goes public. To write a book is one thing and to put it into the world is another! Marie’s programs are spaces to learn from others’ pieces what matters and what doesn’t, learn how to trust, and grow the confidence to share with a wider audience.” – Yvonne Winkler
Back when I was completing The Chocolate Pilgrim, I knew myself well enough to know that I had to hire someone else take care of all the publishing logistics, otherwise I would get derailed from completing the manuscript. Ultimately, I chose to work with a well-respected company that took care of all the details and timelines related to independently publishing my book. Yes, it was another financial investment in making my dream a reality, and I was committed to making everything happen in a professional manner.
I can’t emphasize this enough: Learning more about publishing and exploring options before you have finished your book is the best way to ensure your success. Writers who have this knowledge invest efficiently, know what route will serve them the best, and most importantly, have a vision of what their end publishing goal looks like! And, extra bonus, they are the most likely to complete their manuscripts because they know what comes next and feel ready to step into it long before they need to.
With you in mind, I’ve invited Sarah Kades Graham, best-selling author, to present a two-part overview about independent publishing. Sarah brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the conversation and will answer your burning publishing questions. This two-part series will be useful to you, whether you’re just beginning your writing exploration or an established author.
The last 10% of any journey can seem the hardest. Take the guesswork out of the publishing process and free your creative energy to write the words that want to emerge on the page.