It’s pretty stinkin’ exciting to say “I have a published book!”
It’s been so much fun to celebrate the launch of my book, Cricket Catches the Travel Bug! Nothing makes me happier than hearing from everyone about how much their kiddos are enjoying the book. But I’ve also been surprised at the amount of questions I’ve gotten about the book publishing process.
You know me, I’m happy to share and answer all the questions.
There are a lot of different ways to publish a book, and everyone will have a slightly different experience. The route I took may not be right for someone else, and vice versa.
But I think most authors would testify to this: the process takes SO much longer than you would ever imagine!
I say this not to be discouraging, but encouraging. The timeline is long; however, the finish line feels amazing! And there’s no better time to start than NOW.
To put it in perspective, when my book officially launched in March 2020 it had been in the works for over 2 and a half years! (Though, some of that time is my own fault. I wrote it and then expected the book to magically publish itself. In fact, for almost a year I did absolutely nothing.)
Here is a general snapshot of the book publishing step by step process:
If you are writing a children’s book. Write the whole thing. If you are writing a fiction or non-fiction book for adults the industry typically accepts partially written books (ex. you can submit your first 3 chapters.)
After you finish, spend a month letting those close to you read it. Ask for honest feedback. Make changes or don’t. Keep in mind, everyone will have an opinion. It doesn’t mean it’s correct.
There are 3 main ways to publish a book. You may want to explore all of your options before settling on one. Here is a simple breakdown of your options:
This option will be both the easiest and the hardest. You will see your book become a reality the quickest and you won’t need anyone’s approval. However, it will be 100% up to you to do all of the legwork to produce and sell your book. By self publishing, you will spend a lot of money up front, but you will also make the most from each book sale.
Self-publishing is the biggest risk, but it isn’t a bad option. Many authors achieve great success after self-publishing. The main advantage is that you’re in complete control. And the biggest drawback (besides the cost) is that you will really struggle to get your book into mainstream bookstores.
Signing with a traditional publisher is the exact opposite of self publishing- it’s the hardest and then the easiest. To get noticed and picked up by a traditional publisher isn’t an easy feat. You will likely get turned down (or ignored) hundreds of times. In fact, you’re lucky if you can even get someone to put eyes on your manuscript. However, once you sign the publisher handles everything.
Besides being difficult to get into a traditional publishing house, you will also give up complete control of your book. By the time your manuscript goes to print it may be completely different than your original vision. You will not be privy to decisions regarding design, edits, etc.
The upside is that you receive an advance on your royalties and you have someone doing the distribution legwork. You will still be responsible for the vast majority of your marketing. The downside is that your royalties from every sale are very limited. And you will essentially give up your control over the book.
This is a newer method and, in theory, combines the best of self-publishing and traditional publishing. A hybrid publisher does require that the author invests in their book; however, it’s a much smaller amount than self-publishing.
Authors are also given the resources of a traditional publishing company, but they still retain control of the process. Hybrid publishers handle design, printing and distribution. They also offer guidance on editing and marketing.
The downside to hybrid publishing is the up front cost. The upside is having a knowledgable team to guide you in decisions, options and best-practices. And then, of course, distribution.
Write Query Letter
No matter which publishing option you choose (and sometimes the option chooses you!), I recommend spending an enormous amount of effort writing a query letter. This is a 1-page sales pitch for your manuscript. It needs to get the reader excited and curious to read more about your book.
If you want to pursue a contract with a traditional publisher, you will need to attract the attention of a book agent. (These days it is very rare for an author to work directly with a publishing house.)
Spend time compiling a spreadsheet of book agents. This will be a somewhat exhaustive process done via google search. I’ve seen some lists you can pay for, but if you are willing to put in the work it can be done by yourself. Be sure to include the name, email and any relevant comment on your spreadsheet (ex. some agents want you to attach the full manuscript in your initial contact others will ask for it upon request.)
Commit to Publishing Option
This point in the process will begin to look different for everyone. If you’ve signed with a publisher, they will direct the steps in the process at this point.
If you’ve opted for self publishing, it’s time to get to work!
Self-Publishing will require some elements of design. All books will need a cover and back design. There are many online resources for finding people to do this work. Additionally, if you have a children’s book you’ll need the full interior.
Purchase Website and Lock Down Social Media
As quickly as possible you will want to purchase a website. Be careful not to pigeonhole yourself too much based on the name of your website. While it might be clever to have the title of your book as the web address, it will get complicated if you end up publishing more than one book.
Many authors opt to go with their first and last name. This idea works well for authors who go on to publish many books, as well as support any other ventures the author may do. Likewise, a niche title for your website will work too (ex. www.MomWithAMap.com)
At this point you also want to lock down all the social media handles that go along with your new website. Even if you aren’t planning to use them all, it’s a good idea to reserve them immediately while they are still available. Again, I chose to stick to @momwithamap across the board to keep my branding consistent.
On a personal note, I would highly discourage anyone wanting to run multiple websites and social media. If you are doing most of the work yourself, it becomes a full time job just to manage one set. I was very clear with my publisher that I was only interested in maintaining one site.
Regardless of which book publishing option you’ve chosen, at some point your book will go through a final edit prior to print. Put as many fresh eyes on your book as you can! Even after multiple professional edits, I had a close friend catch a grammar mistake in Cricket Catches the Travel Bug just before I signed off on the final copy.
This is a particularly important step if you are self-publishing. Any error could potentially detract from your marketing ability. Additionally, it will cost you lots of money if it’s an error you need to correct.
Wait On The Process
Printing a book can take anywhere from 1-3 months depending on the printing company. This is the time frame from when you actually sign off on the book to when it’s a physical thing you can hold in hand.
However, it’s much longer before you see it in the stores. Book buyers work about 6 months out. That means it will take 6-7 months until you can expect to see your book on shelves.
I hope this post helps answer a few simple questions and gives insight into the book publishing process!
I’d love to answer more of your questions or provide help where I can. Send an email or reach out via social media!
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