Publishing.com receives many requests from authors who would like us to publish their book and poetry manuscripts. We are not a full-service publisher that purchases, publishes, prints, and then distributes authors' books. Instead, we are hired by other publishers — and occasionally authors — who pay us to produce the “master copy” of the book. Then the publisher or author arranges for the printing and distribution of the book under their imprint.
If you're an unpublished author, please continue reading to understand what we do and do not offer and for some general advice on getting yourself published.
We believe an author should usually seek a traditional “full-service publisher to accept his or her manuscript, to create the book from the manuscript (or hire a company like ours to do the production work), to print the initial run of the book, and (very importantly) to distribute the printed book through their established channels.
The first major advantage of the traditional publishing model is that the author doesn't pay the up-front costs of editing, creating, printing, and distributing the book. And, because the publisher has agreed to take on these costs, the publisher is usually reasonably confident of the work's quality and its ability to generate sufficient sales to recoup the publishing costs and earn a profit (and thus royalties for the author). Full-service publishers also have the incentive to promote the book, because they make their money from the post-production sales of the book, not from charging up-front costs to an author. Another very important advantage of procuring a traditional publisher is that their distribution network usually assures the book will be placed in bookstores, catalogs, and online sites, where it can generate sales.
Of course, it's difficult getting a manuscript accepted by such a full-service publisher, especially for an unpublished author. On this page we list some resources that will help an author connect with a traditional publisher. An author seeking a publisher needs to target publishers who accept direct author submissions and who publish the type of material the author has written. The manuscript must be submitted to each potential publisher according to their individual submission requirements. These requirements can be found in the Writer's Market guides shown in the margin of this page. With a good manuscript, a lot of diligence, and a bit of luck, an author might eventually have the manuscript accepted for publication.
An increasing number of traditional publishers will not accept manuscripts submitted directly by authors, preferring to work only through literary agents. Whether it's best for a new author to be represented by a literary agent or to submit directly to those publishers who do accept direct submissions is an open question. However, authors who choose to use an agent should be very careful in their selection. Agents are not required to be licensed, and authors have been abused by dishonest agents. Authors should check the links to Literary Agents shown in the margin of this page and exercise caution in selecting an agent. The first rule of thumb is that most bona fide agents will not charge up-front fees to an author but will wait and collect a commission on the book's earnings. This arrangement suggests the agent is able to actually close publishing deals and earn a living from their commissions rather than by collecting advance fees from authors regardless of whether the manuscript is ever sold.
Whether an author plans to submit directly or through an agent, an author's first step should be to consult, borrow, or buy the Writer's Market reference book. This large book is published annually, so look for a current copy. It lists hundreds of publishers, editors, and agents, and it contains articles and guidance on many aspects of marketing your writing. This page contains a link to the current edition of Writer's Market. Click the link to get more information or order a copy. Most libraries will have a copy in their reference departments. Also check the links to specialized versions of Writer's Market for your particular interests.
Another option for an author determined to publish a manuscript is through self publishing. As the name implies, the author must take responsibility for the cost of preparing and printing the book, and then distributing it. Self publishing can give an author more control over the manuscript and take less time than finding a traditional publisher. However, even after the cost of producing the book is met, selling the book in any quantity is very difficult without an established distribution channel. The difficulty of marketing a self-published book can result in boxes of unsold books filling an author's garage. For others who are more interested in giving their books to friends or selling through their local stores or organizations, large-scale distribution channels might not be a concern.
Thanks to the Internet and recent advances in printing technology, some additional options are available today.
Print on Demand (POD) technology, also called publish on demand, uses digital printing methods to print and bind books singly or in small numbers, usually as the books are ordered. Each book costs more to produce than in a larger, traditional print run, but, by printing copies only as they're needed, up-front costs are minimized. While this pay-as-you-go concept is attractive in theory, some publish-on-demand companies entangle authors in expensive contracts. And also, distribution channels for print on demand publishers might not be very good. Authors who choose to self-publish should generally assume that they will need to distribute, market, and sell their books themselves. Read more about POD on Wikipedia.
Other authors are promoting, marketing, or publishing their works on the Internet. As a commercial model the Internet is still a relatively new venue, and both published and unpublished authors have been seeking innovative ways to connect to their potential audiences in efficient and economical ways.
Some authors offer their work for free on their own Web site or on a shared site of writers for the world to read online or download.
Others use the Web to promote and sell their works. Each copy sold can be delivered as an e-book file, in the form of a plain text file or a fully formatted version for more of a "virtual book" experience, using a format like the Adobe Reader PDF files. Or, an author can mail out a bound book to each buyer, perhaps produced by self-publishing or POD.
Among the more innovative ideas is to offer the first chapter of a book for free online reading and then require a fee to be able to download the rest of the book or buy a printed version.
It's early to know how well these methods will work, but distribution via the Internet is a challenge in a slightly different dimension, because potential readers first need to find an author's Web site from among the millions that exist today. For undiscovered authors, after creating a Web presence it's important to get a site listed on search engines and perhaps through online paid advertising.
Creative approaches to using new technologies will undoubtedly continue to present new opportunities as well as challenges to authors, but it's still sound practice for most authors to start by submitting their manuscripts to full-service publishers or literary agents and giving that process a good, persistent effort before turning to other more expensive or experimental strategies.
Check the links on this page to get more information about specialized market guides, magazine for writers, and books about getting published.
Writer's Market Deluxe Edition
Novel & Short Story Writer's Market
Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market
Christian Writer's Market Guide
Artist's & Graphic Designer's Market
Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents
Writer's Digest Guide to Query Letters
Guide to Literary Agents
How to Get a Literary Agent
Let's Get Digital: How to Self-Publish, And Why You Should
The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published
Writer's Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing
Poets and Writers
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