Ways to Publish a Book

If you’re considering writing a book to try to sell, you should be aware of the options available to you. Writing a book is a long, difficult, trying process, but it can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. Moreover, at the end of the day, it’s possible that it just isn’t a success, but that should never deter you from trying. Once you’ve written, rewritten, revised, and edited your book, and you’re ready to try for publications, you have three major options available to you: a literary agent, a publishing company, and self-publishing. Each of these options do have advantages and disadvantages.

Literary Agent

Most commonly, when you’re trying to get published by a traditional publisher, you’ll want to go through a literary agent. Literary agents will have contacts at various publishers, which can help you get into the door. More importantly, literary agents will be able to specialize in a specific market that serves your type of book. They’ll be able to connect you to someone who is most likely to want to publish your type of book. The literary agent will generally take parts of the profits of the book’s sales, which does naturally cut into your own profits, but it can be worth it to get the right contract. In order to attain a literary agent, you’ll need to write queries to them, basically summaries of what your book is and why it’s worth trying to sell.

Publishing Company

Some authors, however, will eschew using a literary agent, and instead try to contact publishing companies on their own. This will generally have a lower success rate, not only because of the sheer mass of manuscripts that publishers get every day, but also because it’s very possible to submit a perfectly good book to a publisher who is not interested in that market or niche. If a publishing company accepts your book, whether directly through a publisher or through an intermediary literary agent, they will generally purchase the rights to the book itself from you, and offer you royalties from the book’s sales.

Self-Publishing

More and more in the modern day, authors are choosing to self-publish instead of using a publishing company. It’s certainly easy to see why. New technologies have made the viability of publishing your own book much more attainable for the average person. The advantages of self-publishing include the much lower barrier to entry, and the prospect of receiving the book’s profits directly instead of merely the royalties. There are also clear disadvantages to self-publishing, however. It does have an upfront cost you need to pay, so if your book doesn’t return profits very well, then you will find yourself in the negative. And that is extremely easy to have happen. When you sign a deal with a publisher, your book gets that publisher’s advertising apparatus behind it. When you’re publishing on your own, all of the buzz for your book will have to be generated by you, and with so many thousands of books being self-published constantly, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd.

No matter which direction you choose, publishing a book takes a lot of hard work and hours of dedication. It’s not necessarily “easier” to get a publisher to pay attention to you than it is to successfully self-publish. Each option comes with its own obstacles, but when you have a story to tell, you do whatever you can to make sure it’s heard.


How to Write a Book

So you’re sitting there, staring at a blank page, hoping that inspiration will strike and the next great novel will flow out of your fingertips. This idea has been in your head for years, but every time you try to get it down, you hit a wall. You know that you could be capable of writing a bestseller, if only you could figure out how to get out of your own way. Well don’t worry; I’m here to tell you the secret of how to write a book.

There Is No Secret

Unfortunately, writing a book isn’t the type of thing that comes with a guidebook. There isn’t one way to write a book, nor any shortcuts you can take to make it easier. Writing a book comes with long, long hours of hard work and dedication. There is no one to keep you accountable but yourself, and no way to get it done other than to put the effort in. That doesn’t mean there aren’t guidelines that you can use to help you get there, though. If you really want to write a book, here are a few tips to keep you on the path.

There’s No Such Thing as Writer’s Block

Writing isn’t something you do exclusively when you have inspiration. Writers don’t sit at their computers waiting for the perfect ideas to strike. Writers do one thing above all: they put words down on paper. The quality of those words, at the outset, isn’t really that important. What is vitally crucial is to have a word goal every day, and stick to it. Even if the ideas you’re working with don’t quite seem to fit together, even if you don’t love the phrasing of that bit. If you don’t get words down every day, you’ll never finish your first draft. Don’t worry how good it is. It won’t be.

First Drafts Suck

No one has ever written a good first draft. Maybe some genius has once accomplished it, but don’t try to be special. First drafts are supposed to be bad, that’s the point of them. A first draft is the rough forming of a piece of clay to vaguely resemble a primate. You don’t worry about fine details on a first draft. You get the basic shape of a story, then step back and think to yourself, “Alright, what the hell am I looking at?”

Good Books are Revised, Not Written

Too many aspiring authors find writing a story exciting, but revising and editing it to be boring busy work. Don’t fall into this trap. Find your story in revising the story, go back into it, and hone it down until it looks exactly what you want it to look like. Keep pushing your characters around until they fit naturally into place. Pull elements from later in your book and hint at them earlier to elegantly foreshadow your conclusion. Every good book you’ve ever read has been made that way through revision, not through initial inspiration.

Have a Writing Group

Writing with other writers might not be for everyone, but it can be an invaluable tool. Other writers provide multiple benefits for the aspiring author. For one, no one is going to be able to give you more useful or comprehensive feedback than someone else who is attempting to do the same thing you are. But moreover, having a group of fellow writers to report to will help keep you accountable. If you are the type to lose momentum and give on projects, you might find that the social impetus of not wanting to let down your writing group might be enough to keep you honest.

Know the Rules before Breaking Them

Some will tell you that there aren’t any rules to writing. This isn’t true; there are plenty of rules in writing, you just don’t need to follow them. There isn’t a single rule in writing that can’t be broken. Even something as fundamental as “show, don’t tell” doesn’t hold true in all instances. However, in order to know when you can break a rule, you have to understand why it’s a rule in the first place. Therefore, follow all of the rules that you’re told about writing until you have a clear understanding of why they’re recommended.

Read!

Good writers read a lot. If your number one goal as a writer is putting words onto the page, the number two slot should be reading them off the page. Engage critically with everything you read, whether it is a pulpy romance novel or an article in the Atlantic. Think about how you would have phrased things, what direction you might have taken the story. Only very stupid or arrogant authors think that they can work alone without influences.