How to Write a Book: Part IV
Many people have the inspiration within them to share their story or knowledge and write a book, envisioning that it'll reach the vast corners of the earth and make a meaningful impact on mankind. This post is the 4th and final post of a multi-part blog series that explains the nitty-gritty aspects of the writing process for anyone who is looking to craft a novel and get it published.
You've made it!! Congratulations on finishing your manuscript... and whether it's taken you 4 years or 4 months to get here, give yourself a pat on the back for this tremendous accomplishment. You are in the very small percentage of the entire world population who has had the creative endurance to make it all the way to type those magical words... "The End".
As someone who has written "The End" on multiple screenplays and books (both non-fiction and fiction), I'm tying together my years of experience, education, and knowledge in this blog series to help future authors also attain that sense of satisfaction.
If you've been following along with the earlier blog posts in this series, your manuscript should already be in the correct template and pre-formatted with font-type face, the book cover artist has created an eye-catching visual representation of your new baby, and lastly the book should be fully edited and ready to go to publishers. Here are links to read or reference back to each of those earlier steps, in case there's one or three that may need revisited:
Preparation: "Easy Tips to Start Writing A Book"
Writing: "How to Write a Book: Part II"
Editing: "How to Write a Book: Part III"
Publishing: You're already here :)
When I first entered the publishing world with my manuscript of "The Text Book", I had absolutely no idea what to expect, which in hindsight had both advantages and some disadvantages. At first I put the word out that I was looking for a literary agent, and being a produced screenwriter already - was referred to and signed with one within a week. My new agent sent the manuscript to publishers and by the end of the month, I had a 5-book exclusivity contract. Woohoo!!!! Right? Wrong.
My manuscript sat there, as I patiently waited for feedback, and kept waiting and kept waiting. 10 months went by without a word. So being the proactive author I decided to reach out and just "touchbase" unbeknownst to my agent. As politely as I could muster, I merely asked wtf was taking so long with my manuscript... ok I used different words, but in essence I think that's how it was received. The publisher asked if I'd like to be released from my contract, because I bluffed and said I had others interested, and long story short... bye bye contract. And... bye bye agent. #oops
I started looking into all sorts of other publishing options, including self-publishing, which isn't viewed as prestigious as having a traditional publisher, but the royalties are way better. (~30% instead of ~5%). Either option required me to market, publicize, and advertise the book myself, which that could be a whole different blog series!
So with all of that in mind, here are the top real-life author tips for getting your manuscript into the hands of publishers and getting published:
Reread your manuscript If you're ready to send your manuscript out... reread it after a week or two away. Yup don't even look at it or think about it, then come back with fresh eyes (like those of your upcoming publisher). If you get a "YES" back from an agent or publisher interested in reading it, you want to be sure it's the best representation of your work possible. One last check for typos. That's all. Make absolutely sure it's 100% ready because as the saying goes, you'll never get another chance to make a good first impression.
Copyright your work Avoid future issues by registering your manuscript with the U.S. Copyright office. It's under $50 (last time I checked), and they'll mail you a really cool copyright certificate you can even frame and hang on the wall if you want to. Visit www.copyright.gov and within 10 minutes it'll be officially recognized as your creative work and legally protected. Make sure and do this before sending your finished manuscript to anyone.
Traditional vs. Self As mentioned, both options have their pros and cons. Traditional publishing will take looooonnnnger - way l.o.n.g.e.r, it has a lower royalty payout for first-time authors, and you are still responsible for doing all of your own marketing and advertising because most of the publishers' resources are saved for top clientele only. Traditional publishers will typically only work with agents, so Google literary agents in your genre and start sending out those query letters. Each rejection is one step closer to being accepted, so don't get discouraged! Traditional publishers still give a certain credibility and status, and handle most of the grunt work. Self-publishing is faster than traditional publishers. You can upload and start selling books on Amazon within a 48-hour timeframe, and there's a higher royalty percentage - especially for e-products. That's great for your target audience, namely book readers. Note however that anyone in the Kindle subscription library (like people who love reading) can read your book for free... which 60% of nothing is?? Yup, nada. Who says writers can't do math?! Also the credibility of being an author then comes from the reviews. Anyone, literally anyone, can list a book on Amazon. Think about the pros and cons for each of these and proceed towards the path that meets your needs. I never said this was going to be easy. ;)
Stock your wine cabinet After sending your manuscript off to the agent and publisher, it will feel like each passing day is an eternity. Try to use this time wisely. This is the time to take a break, go for a walk outside to get inspired for your next book (did I just say that?!). Find ways to stay occupied and r.e.l.a.x! Writing can be mentally challenging and you've done the work. Take pride in knowing that you finished a BOOK! So kick back, pour a glass of your favorite red, and put your feet up. You'll hear back soon enough.
Negotiation Points This last consideration is mainly for those following the traditional publishing route. If the agent and publisher like the manuscript, here are the main points available for negotiations. This should all be done by your agent, but it never hurts to be prepared to mention ideas to your agent on why you feel anything other than standard terms should apply. - # of books: Will they sign you for upcoming unwritten books? Building a long-term relationship with a publisher is a good thing, especially for any series. Be sure and mention you have future books and manuscripts and see if they'll do a 5-book deal. - Advance: Typically an advance will not be available to first-time authors unless you are a celebrity or public figure. The amount of an advance can be negotiated though, and the distribution of it. Example: A $10k advance with half on contract acceptance and half when it's released might be typical. Opt for a higher amount upfront if possible. - Royalty percentage: Once again for first-time authors, you can typically expect 5% of any copy sold under 10,000 and 10% for each copy sold over 10,000. Can these numbers be adjusted? What about on those future books you'll be writing? Ask these questions.
Alright my friends... I hope you find this information helpful. Subscribe to the newsletter to make sure you're updated on when it's released. Until then, stay safe and healthy!