So you’ve written a first draft

Here’s some advice I gave a while ago on the social network that I think bears repeating.Once you’ve got a finished first draft, you need to decide whether or not you want it to be published by a major company, a minor company, or to essentially go into business for yourself. All three options have their strengths and weaknesses, and all three can be considered at the same time if you have a little bit of juggling talent.You say you want to live off of your writing, so the first thing you should do is absolutely ignore anyone who wants to take thousands of dollars from you to publish your book. I can’t go as far as call them scams, since they will do what they claim (generally), but they are certainly profiting off the public’s naivety when it comes to publishing. Here’s a comparison of pricing from what they charge to what it actually costs (actual cost in brackets, generated from other companies and common sense): Let’s take Booksurge, a popular self publisher. For thetop of the line $6000package, (the offer is no longer valid) they gave you:

25 copies of your book (at most, $250) 10 images (free) cover design (varies from 200-400) book formatting (200-300) Online listings everywhere (tops out at 500) book trailer (anywhere from free to 200) Independent review (one should never pay for a review other than mailing a copy. It’s dishonest and cheap) Editing (a quality editor will do a novel for no more than 1000)

Using the top prices out of my examples, it comes to a total of 2,650. I have no idea where Booksurge gets off charges more than twice that. My advice is to stay away from any company would charge more than $2000 for a package deal. And that’s if you want to go the route of having a company publish your book. By all means, send your work to agents and publishers. The only thing you will lose by doing that is postage, and the gains are unpredictable and vast if everything works out. The chances are not great. Even the J.K. Rowlings and Stephen King’s of the world are rejected hundreds of times before breaking through. My advice is to never give up on major publishing, but to never bank on it working out, either. I would also suggest sending your book out to medium-to-small sized publishers as well, but make sure that if you do get an offer that they are little more than something like Booksurge. There are many small publishers out there that do not have the capabilities to edit and typeset your book and expect you to do the majority of the work. Then, there are publishers who will put the book together for you but cannot help with promotions or anything involving the web. These are not necessarily places to avoid, but they are ones you have to seriously think about. You have to decide whether it is in your best interest to give up your rights to people who may or may not be able to help you. Finally, there’s simply going into business for yourself. This route definitely takes the largest amount of work, but it has the strengths of giving you complete control. Authors have the advantage of following in the footsteps of the independent music shift online this decade, and there are tons of routes to self publish and market. What becomes your responsibility is making sure your book looks and feels professional, because nobody is going to buy a book that doesn’t look like a finished product. This is where publishing services like Booksurge come in. We’re working here at Gredunza to create a database of these services so that new authors can compare services, which puts the power in your hand. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to use any of these services, as well. You can do everything in separate stages. Here’s a basic checklist of what you need to do in order to hold your professional book in your hands: A professional proofread and substantial edit. A professional typesetting and layout job. A printer or printing company that will make your book a physical product (if you want to still make physical books) Someone who knows how to make electronic copies of your book (PDF is actually not good enough if you want your book in electronic stores). Someone who can make a website for you (of course, you can always make one yourself for free if all you want is a blog). Someone who can help you book readings and do marketing.

And that’s it, really. You can actually do all this yourself with the exception of editing, because nobody should ever edit their own work (rule #1 in publishing, really).


March 13, 2011