Victoria Advocate, A Different Perspective
At last, it’s finally happening. I signed a book contract in July! My debut novel will be published by Scrivenings Press this time next year—September 2023. In the meantime, I promise to share the inner workings of the process. But first, a little about publishing in general. Spoiler alert: what you may have observed on TV about book authors and publishing isn’t an accurate picture.
There are two basic ways to get published these days The first way has been around since the invention of the printing press and is now called “traditional” or “trad.” It means the author goes through a publishing house. That generally means the writer signs a contract to allow professionals to edit, print, and market their book. However, that’s changing too—especially the marketing part. Publishing houses have distinct preferences about what kinds of manuscripts they will accept. One may have strong lines in the science fiction and thriller genres, while another may only represent romance. The bigger publishing houses only accept manuscripts by agent-represented authors. There’s a reason for this: agents know the market (what’s selling) and usually go with writers with excellent track records. For newbie writers, it can take years to acquire an agent. I chose a mid-size publisher who accepted my unagented submission.
Alas, each house has a limited number of publishing slots. Considering the vast number of people who want to get their stories out there, this translates to very few, and those coveted slots go to well-established writers or celebrities with huge followings.
This disparity between new authors and the hard facts of publishing gave rise to self-publishing or “indie” publishing. Companies who help authors by printing books for a fee have been around for a while, but they don’t engage in the marketing end of it. Then Amazon came on the scene and provided a way for anyone to self-publish. Though Kindle, it provides the printing service and posts books on its gargantuan website. No serious author can afford to ignore Amazon because it’s the most cost-effective way to sell books. The writer is still responsible for the editing process and book promotion. I’ve heard from other authors that publishing through Amazon has its own quirks, leading to mix-ups and desperate moments.
The marketing aspect of publishing is daunting for most authors. Most writers tend to fall into the creative thinking mindset, and the mechanics of promotion can be overwhelming. For starters, any writer who desires to sell books beyond friends and family needs a website because that’s where interested readers go to find out more about an author. The logistics of making others aware of your business such as writing a newsletter and posting on social media takes time. A book launch means book signings, speaking events, and networking which involves travel.
Some people write as a hobby. Writing is a business for me, so I treat it like a job. I show up whether I feel like it or not. Sometimes the words flow; other times, I hit the delete button every other space. Deadlines abound and some days the revision process seems never-ending. But there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing at this stage of my life. It brings me enormous joy despite all the challenges.
Have you got a story to write? There’s no time like the present to establish a regular writing routine and figure out what writing medium best suits your tale. Maybe it’s a short memoir or a full-length novel. But be prepared to hang in there. Publishable writing is a long game.