This week, I'm covering a few things I wish I knew before publishing my book. It's not a comprehensive list for sure, but it's a little bit of what I've learned this past year.
When I first started pursuing publication, I had no idea the difference between self publishing and vanity press. I didn't know why you would send in a query first and then, maybe—if you're asked—you would send in a proposal.
Not to mention sample chapters and how to find a cover-artist or whether or not to hire a publicist or the difference between uploading a PDF to Amazon vs. actually taking the time to convert it to the file needed for ePub. It's dizzying, really—all of the pieces of information floating around.
Which is why you need to research.
Planning on self-publishing a book? Research copy-editors and content-editors and how much they charge [often by the word]. You don't want to upload an unfinished, underdeveloped and poorly executed manuscript - so the time [and money] invested here is crucial. Also, make sure you know the type of file you'll need to upload your book as well as any possible graphic designers who can make your manuscript [both in cover design + content] pop in a way that sets you apart from other self-pub authors.
Wanting to go the traditional route? Hit up agents first. Study those who are accepting queries. Research who represents your favorite authors. If you know anyone who has an agent, ask them what they've learned and what they'd suggest. And begin working on your proposal. This needs to be top-notch and pitch perfect. Don't know where to start? I'm only a few pages into Danielle LaPorte's Your Big Beautiful Book Plan and it's turning out to be an incredible investment.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Finding the right agent + the right publisher is an absolute requirement if you want your book to get anywhere in the traditional market.
It's not enough to toss out your manuscript on a wing and a prayer hoping someone will pick it up as the next Pulitzer. If I've learned anything over these past few years, it's that these things take work and most of the time, if it sounds too good to be true there's probably a hidden caveat somewhere. Do some soul-work. Where are you wanting your words to land? Go there. Do the research on what it takes to create a killer query letter and proposal to land the publishing team of your dreams.
Most of all: get people behind you who will help you through those moments where you want to throw in the towel because there will be many of those. Promise. If you have the right people, though—they'll push you forward even when you want to crawl into a hole and hide. Trust me. It really does take a village.