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.
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.
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.
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.