John Work is an author. He posted this on a Linked In group and graciously gave permission for me to reprint it here. Emphasis throughout is mine.
I’m a self-published author, both in ebook and paperback print formats. I’ve been a member of this [Linked In] group for about a year. I’ve noticed that authors who are already traditionally published frequently tell writers who are considering self-publishing their works that traditional publishing is the only way to go – and that if the aspiring writer just sticks with it, sends enough quality manuscripts to agents or publishers, and keeps at it for five, ten or twenty years, that elusive contract offer will eventually come along. You just have to persist, or so I’ve read.
Substance-wise, it doesn’t matter how good or bad the book is. What sells your work is the marketing. All things being equal with editing, format and grammar, if there’s sufficient publicity generated by a big publishing house, people will line up by the tens of thousands to buy the book.
Here are some questions for new authors, hoping for a traditional publishing contract for your beloved manuscript, over which you’ve spent countless hours of hard work – and probably given up hours of sleep:
- Are you in your youth, middle age, or approaching old age?
- How many years do you have available to spend marking time, waiting for some hotshot attorney/agent to agree to take your work and start calling publishers?
- How many years do you have to squander, waiting while traditional publishing editing assistants give your manuscript a cursory glance and don’t just immediately fall in love with your writing?
If you’re willing to go down that traditional publishing road for years upon years, my best wishes are sent to you. If you’re not willing to spend the requisite time and energy it takes to jump through all the traditional publishing hoops:
- Write your book and find an editor.
- Pay and listen to your editor.
- Design your own cover and publish your book. You can put it into print or into ebook form, or both for very little outlay of funds.
- Do what you can do to market your book with whatever your budget will afford. Maybe people will buy it and read it – and maybe they won’t. They may like it or they may not like it. If it’s well-written, 99.9% free of editorial typos (no editor will catch 100% of your mistakes), and grammatically correct, you’ve done what you can do. Self-publish your book.
It’s your book. Don’t count on readers who absolutely love it to write reviews for you. Most of them won’t take the time. Don’t count on them to tell someone else about it. Most of them won’t. Writing is a brutal business. My friend Diana West, who is a successfully published author and nationally syndicated columnist, told me that in so many words. Some readers who do take the time to write reviews will dump one star on you and, having wrecked your ranking average, disappear into the night.
Not everyone likes Stravinsky’s music, no matter how well-performed. Not everyone likes prime rib of beef, no matter how well-prepared by a five star chef. Not everyone will like your book. You must be prepared for that when you self-publish. Good luck.