Now that you are on your 5th draft of your manuscript, you are ready to introduce your book to the world. You can either self-publish or traditionally publish your book. Before I get into what each method means, I want to assure you that there is no right way to do this. Both indie authors and traditional authors are REAL AUTHORS.
Indie authors have published their books by themselves without the help of a traditional publishing company or literary agent. They are their own CEOs, COOs, marketers, and cover designers. They have all the control over what happens with their book, but with control comes a lot of responsibility. I’m in the process of self-publishing my book right now, and it is a lot of work. A common myth regarding indie authors is that they failed at publishing traditionally; in other words, they were rejected from publishing companies and instead turned to the indie route. While some authors may have indeed tried to publish traditionally first, self-publishing does not mean they failed. The traditional route was simply not the right one for them. Traditional publishing is not all sunshine and rainbows either.
Traditional publishing is what you think of when you think of books. All the popular New York Times Bestsellers were traditionally published. They went through the process of querying an agent and securing a book deal with a publishing company, which I will go into in a bit. However, by signing off with a publisher, they lose a lot of their control. Oftentimes, most traditional authors do not even get to pick their own book cover or title. Sometimes this can seem like a relief, not having to do all the work, but creative control is important to authors because this is their baby after all. Additionally, publishers and agents get a percentage of the author’s income, whereas indie authors get 100% of their sales revenue. However, it is much easier from a marketing perspective to go with a traditional publisher, as they will do all your marketing for you. As an indie author, it is much more difficult to get your book out there. Even a big following on social media does not guarantee that your followers will buy your book.
As you can see, there are pros and cons to both indie and traditional publishing, but it all comes down to what is best for you. Before you make any assumptions, here are some myths I want to debunk: It should not cost you much to self-publish your book. If it does, you’re doing it wrong. Also, it should not cost you anything to sign with a literary agent. If it does, they are scamming you. Your agent only gets paid when you get paid.
Now, let’s talk publishing.
There are many resources out there to help you self-publish. Here are two of my favourites:
- KDP Publishing: Through Amazon, KDP is a website where you can publish your book free of charge. All of the information you need to format your book, choose the size of your book, design a cover, and more is clearly laid out for you on their website. They have templates you can use as a basis and tables that tell you the bleed (excess page area that is later cut off) and trim size (the height and width of the book). Once you have uploaded your book to the site, you submit it and will hear back from them shortly. Through KDP, you can publish in the form of ebooks, paperbacks, hardcovers, and audiobooks. They will send you a proof copy to make sure that you format everything correctly. If you have, you are then ready to publish. This is beneficial because it sometimes takes years and years to publish a book traditionally, but through KDP, it is almost instantaneous. Your book is then available through Amazon, and they pay you in royalties.
- IngramSparks: Another website that you can self-publish through, Ingram Sparks, requires a $49 fee for you to publish a paperback and $25 for an ebook. However, Ingram Sparks is important as it allows the author to get into bigger stores such as Indigo. This makes it easier for you to get into independently-owned bookstores as well, and ultimately, gives you a larger audience. Of course, it is then important that you purchase your own ISBN number (it is free in Canada), as most bookstores won’t take your book unless you have your own. An ISBN number is an International Standard Book Number, and every book has one. It helps identify the book through the 13-digits.
Though it is more work for the author, the financial benefits of self-publishing far outweigh the costs. Plus, these websites make it more than simple to get your book baby out there! Keep in mind that you can publish through both websites as well!
The traditional publishing process is quite different. Let’s go through the steps:
- Querying: The search for an agent has begun! A literary agent represents an author and their book, and helps them secure a book deal with a publishing company. They also help in marketing, film deals, and editing. To find an agent, you must query them. A query letter is a formal book pitch in which you will include a short bio, the title and number of words in your book, and a synopsis of your book. If you have any published works or were referenced to this agent by someone else, this is where you’d specify that. Agents may also ask for a certain chunk of your book to be sent to them, usually the first 3 chapters, so it is very important to follow their guidelines (which you can find most often on their website). When finding an agent, make sure they represent your current genre. If they don’t want poetry, do not send them poetry. Also, make sure to personalize your query letter, as this is what will help your letter stand out among the piles that they receive. Finally, don’t take it personally if they reject you. They get hundreds of letters and have their own subjective preferences. Some tools to find an agent that I have used are the website QueryTracker and a book called the Writer’s Market: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published. I suggest checking these out before querying.
- Publishing: Once you have signed off with an agent, your job is mostly done. Your agent will focus on finding you a book deal with a publishing company. I cannot speak to this part much as I have not gotten this far in the process, but I can definitely tell you that it isn’t nearly as much work as self-publishing. However, this process could take months to years to fulfill, so be patient. Then, once you have your book deal, it’s only a matter of time until you are a published author
Both traditional and self-publishing are valid methods to getting your book baby out there. Whichever direction you choose to go in, I wish you all the luck in your publishing process. I can’t wait to see all of your books out in the world! If you plan to self-publish, stay tuned for an article on how to market your book.