If you’ve just started out, you will most likely have no idea how to get your book ‘out there’. And Googling will probably confuse you further or lead you into shark-infested waters inhabited by profit-hungry vanity publishers who are so convincing they will have you believing you are now up there with the big boys and girls when you’ve paid the fabulously-helpful vanity publisher five grand (or perhaps even more).
Ahh, money, what doors it will open. You can pay someone to write the book; draw the pictures; design the cover; proof-read/edit the manuscript; do the marketing, or all of these. Or you can throw cash at an agent to manage the process for you. However, to get an agent you will generally have to be an accredited writer; famous; rich; or amazingly, mind-bogglingly talented.
If you are a penniless keyboard-pounder (like so many of us are) a different journey will stretch out ahead of you. There are quite a few routes to consider depending on your levels of patience; your budget and expertise (a fan-base will also help). Here are a few ideas to send you off on your quest for success.
1. Google children’s books (or novels if writing for adults) similar to the title you have created, seek out the publisher, then contact them to see if they are accepting submissions.
2. Search online for a list of suitable publishers (Duotrope used to be a good free site but they do now ask for a small monthly subscription and this has allowed them to provide more information.) There are many sites that provide lists of publishers; but be aware small publishers can pop-up and die away in a twinkling. You may discover a publisher, get a positive reply and on the strength of this, grab a bottle of Pinot Grigio to celebrate. When you click on the site the following day the website is floating uselessly in cyberspace never to reactivate even though you search desperately day after day. When you do have a list of ‘live’ companies – see who publishes children’s books (or appropriate genres of novels) and look for their requirements – keep on this though and don’t procrastinate or the previous note may well apply to some of your pick of publishers.
3. You can self-publish an e-book – this is the swiftest and easiest option. Amazon’s KDP site has honed itself over the years to make the process relatively painless but unless you have hit on a fabulous formula and have a Facebook and Twitter following in the tens of thousands you won’t get rich on this option – having said that you will see your book out there and people will buy it if you price it realistically. Smashwords is an excellent online book publishing site; but it has software known affectionately by authors as ‘The Meatgrinder’; most authors make it their mission in life to get through The Meatgrinder’s jaws in one go. But be warned, it’s a pesky pedantic piece of software and people frequently give up and pay ‘tech-savvy’ geniuses to post a title for them.
– Watch-out! Here comes another warning. Each site you click through, or publishing software you use will take full advantage of rookie authors getting stuck and frustrated – don’t be surprised to see frequent ‘Need Help?’ signs. These will generally zap you over to someone ‘tech-savvy’ (yes, them again!) who can assist you for a price. Instead, do check out the forums; all the online publishers have forums and they are full of other creative types suffering for their art and at the point of pitching their laptops out of the window in exasperation. The value of their advice is beyond that of rubies. Or perhaps a more apt analogy would be panning for gold as you have to sift through a lot of silt to get to the shiny yellow-stuff.
4. And then we come to Print-On-Demand. Want to see a glossy paperback of your book? Need Help? (Sorry only joking; couldn’t resist it!) This is about level 50 of the game we shall call ‘Author Wars’. You must fight the dragons of technology that absolutely, totally and utterly refuse to accept your book cover; font; or alignment and I guarantee will have you: frothing; shaking and at the point of paying someone when you next get that irritating pop-up ‘Need Help?’. Don’t do it! I tells ya – trust the writers on the forum who have been through the pain and shared it with others. Keep trying and you will succeed. And never forget if your work is good enough you’ll get there… eventually – however long eventually is depends entirely on how committed you are; the quality of your work; the level of tenacity you display, and your standards. Books have to be perfect. Remember this line:
Edit; edit; edit; edit; edit; edit; edit; edit; edit; edit; edit; edit; edit; edit; edit.
Good luck out there!