There are so many choices for new authors who want to see their book in the hands of a smiling reader. The road to publication no longer follows a straight path to NY. It is often a twisting maze of luck and perseverence.

With new publishing houses popping up every day and other publishers imploding, leaving authors begging for the manuscripts back, it can be a mine field wading through facts and rumors. Add to that the loud voices of those that are finding gold in the hills of self-publishing and you have a plethora of confusion on what is best for your manuscript.

So where do you start?

First, decide what it is you want from your writing. The satisfaction of seeing your words in print? A little extra income? A living wage and writing full time? What is your ultimate goal? It will certainly give you direction. For me, quite honestly, it was the income. As so many of you know I had to give up teaching due to medical reasons. And though it wasn’t much in the grand scheme of things, my salary did contribute to the family budget. I want to have that again. And I will.

With that in mind I wrote my first book and began sending it out while working on my second book. Rejections piled up and still I wrote and sent out queries on my second book. More rejections followed. I finally stepped back and reassessed, looked at the market (because I wanted income) and wrote a book I thought would fit the erotic romance market which was growing exponentially at the time. I also realized my only avenue wasn’t print, but digital publishers. I queried several new up-and-coming publishers and three well established houses. I got four offers, an offer of re-write and a rejection. One publisher called me directly. Boy, was I thrilled. But I didn’t jump on it. Why? Because it was a publishing house that had been around only a year.

Here’s the thing I did next and I think more authors should take time to do. I emailed random authors on the publisher’s author list. Why? Because they’re in there and know better than anyone how the publisher works. The good, bad and downright ugly. I asked specific questions about editing staff and techniques. About sales and royalty payments. How long from contract to publication. I even asked about percentage of books going to print. Authors are wonderful people and most will be honest … brutally honest, which is what I wanted. Granted, there were some who did not respond to my emails, but that gave me information also.

From these emails I accepted a contract with Liquid Silver Books. And though I no longer have books there, I will be forever grateful to them for giving me such a wonderful start to my writing career. I HIGHLY recommend them and would tell that to anyone who asks. And let me just tell you, two of the four who offered contracts and whose authors never responded to me have recently gone under. Seriously, a little research goes a long way.

And what of self-publication? Another avenue to explore and consider. It’s not as difficult for someone like me who publishes digitally anyway. There are no huge formatting issues for upload so don’t let that slow you down. Nor does the marketing and promotion change. Because if you’re with an e-publisher already, you know the importance of getting out there and marketing your book. So what is there to consider? Editing and cover design, both of which can be a considerable outlay of money. Whether you have the readers who are auto-buys for your books or your looking to begin a readership. All are important things to weigh when you’re thinking of going this route.

There is money out there for sure, but don’t go into self-publication with stars in your eyes. The reality is many people aren’t selling. Many aren’t making money. *slowly raises hand* Sales get sales. If a book doesn’t have sales, it isn’t going to show up on the lists. If it doesn’t show up on lists, it’s not going to get the attention of new readers. And all the great reviews and marketing aren’t going to get your book in front of the general Amazon surfer, which is your ultimate goal. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t go that route. I’m simply saying, like all parts of the publishing world, go into it well informed.

My goal for 2012 is to have my toes dipping in all of the markets, mass market print, digital and self-pubbing. There is no one way that is correct. In this day and age, an author needs to weigh their options and make decisions that fit them best.

0 Responses to The Bumpy Road to Publication

  • Nina, thanks for sharing your road to publication and some cautionary words about self-publishing. I’m thinking of dipping my toe in the self-pub pool with some unpublished manuscripts. There’s so much advice and so many routes to go, it’s very confusing.

    • Susan – Like all new aspects of publishing it’s a matter of surveying several authors across the board. Talk to those that are successful and discover what they attribute to that (in many cases I think it’s the established readership) and talk to those who aren’t so successful, asking the same questions. Learn from others and their mistakes. No sense re-inventing the wheel.

      In the end, you need to trust your gut and what’s right for you, your book and ultimately, your career.

  • You’re amazing Nina! I have no doubt you’ll succeed.
    I was pretty brash too. In the beginning, I wrote to authors, editors and anyone I could obtain an email address from and asked polite/ brief questions about their publisher. Almost all were very helpful.
    I came away feeling the e-publishing industry was peopled with intelligent helpful folks, and it’s those people we’ll meet again when the industry sorts itself out.
    XXOO Kat

    • Kat – The flux of the industry at the moment is sort of scary. It looks like even the big six are trying to figure out how this is all going to shake out. I think keeping an open mind and learning, always learning is what’s going to help authors right now.

  • What a great post Nina! I have so many friends doing a few self pubs along side epublished who are doing very well with their side project. I plan on doing one short erotic read a month and self pubbing after I get through other projects. I’m not in a hurry since I’m still learning myself. I really want to do a panel called Newbie Mistakes at a conf. I def made quite a few in the beginning ;0) I love your work and am also at Liquid Silver and they rock.

    • Hales – I think spreading books over all the venues is just a smart decision for authors. With an ever-changing climate it comes down to making choices that build your readership and ultimately your business.

      And LSB is awesome covered in chocolate-cherry awesome sauce. EVERYONE over there is so friendly and helpful. I couldn’t love them more (well, I could if their readers liked my books. LOL!)

  • great post nina! you are on the right track I have no doubts.
    luckily, these days, many of the smaller presses allow newbs an even better chance of launching into the publishing world.
    cheers
    Liz

    • Liz – The wonderful thing about smaller presses is offering new authors the opportunity to learn the business and hone their craft that is so true. There’s nothing like putting your feet to the fire to force you to improve.

      “Small” and “New” are not interchangeable for me though. I am one of those (after hearing too many horror stories of new publishers who failed) that doesn’t jump into something new. I prefer a proven track record. But then again I won’t test new drugs on the market either. It’s just who I am. Everyone’s mileage may vary.

  • Great post. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • PR – I’m a teacher at heart. I believe full disclosure is the only way for authors to learn from others’ mistakes and successes. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Good post. I think all successful people in any walk of life are those, like you, who keep learning. Educating yourself is critically important in a fast-moving field like publishing.

    • Carly – With the publishing world in a state of flux, I think it’s important for an author to continually look at different options and assess what works best for them.

  • *critically* Ack I hate typos.

  • Great post, Nina. I’m self-pubbed, but I do intend to submit to an traditional publishers and e-publisher in the future.

    • Tamara – Best of luck with your self-publishing. For some, this route has worked very well and it has been very lucrative. Don’t discount what works for you. If I’ve learned anything over the past few years is that publishing is not a one size fits all business.

  • Thanks for all the great advice. I am sitting on the fence right now with a couple of stories about ready to send out. There is so much to learn, decide on and, like you said, we have a great resource in our fellow writers and friends. Now, what I need is the backbone to send them out. 🙂

    • Paisley – Sometimes editing becomes nothing more than moving words around on a page, but not improving the story. When you hit that point it’s time to make the leap and set that puppy free. I know from experience that a publisher rejecting a certain manuscript today doesn’t mean you can’t send them another that they may love. Don’t let fear be what stops you from submitting.

  • Nina,
    Great post. Thanks so much for sharing what you’ve learned.

  • Very helpful words, Nina!

  • Thanks for reminding me not everyone makes a mint in the self-pub arena. I swear every time I turn around someone is touting $10,000 in sales…in the first quarter! I guess that’s the exception, rather than the rule.

    A great well-thought out post. Thanks.

    • Jayne – I have no idea if it’s the exception because I keep hearing people say they’re making that kind of money. But I’m sure not one of them. 🙁 Like everything, there is a certain amount of luck that goes along with this business. You can write a great story, but if the readers don’t know it’s out there, despite your best marketing efforts, you’re not going to make a dime.

  • Well said Nina.

    I have yet to jump into the self-publishing ocean, but I’m considering it. I remember what a tough decision you had to go the e-pub route. I’m glad you did.

    Michelle

    • Michelle – It was a hard decision when I chose a digital publisher. Somehow it seemed like selling our. Little could I have seen the future and the explosion of e-readers. Now, it seems silly not to have a book available in digital format. I’m glad I went that route as well.

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