Welcome to December!
Hopefully those of you who were doing NaNo achieved your goals. And even if you didn’t get to 50K, you still have more written than you did on 31 October which is a win in my book! I surprised myself and managed just under 60K in November. My book isn’t finished yet, but I figure I have only another 15K or so to go. I aim to be done by Christmas so I can enjoy my summer holiday (I live in New Zealand so Christmas is in summer) without that hanging over me.
Last week O’Abby had a question about what to do once you’ve finished your NaNo book and I outlined some ideas about revising that first draft (here) and promised we’d talk about the next step this week. So here goes.
Once your book is revised and polished and your readers can’t find any more major flaws, you need to decide what publishing route is right for you and your book.
If you want to be traditionally published by one of the big publishing houses you will need to find a literary agent as most of these publishers don’t accept manuscripts directly from authors. There are numerous agents and they all represent different types of books. Research is required to ensure you find one who will be able to sell your book. There are a number of websites that can help you with your search. I would recommend Query Tracker as a useful tool, and for finding our what different agents are actively looking for, MSWL. Once you’ve found a few agents you’re interested in, I suggest you follow them on Twitter to see what they’re looking for and if you think you might be compatible with them. Picking the wrong agent is worse than having no agent, so it’s worth going in with as much knowledge as possible.
If you are someone who likes control, self-publishing might be the best route for you. It’s hard work because every part of the process is in your hands, from editing, to cover design to publicity and marketing. But you get a bigger cut of the royalties from your sales and you can control when your book releases, what it looks like, the price and pretty much everything else about the process. I would suggest though, you get a professional editor and cover designer to work with you because readers notice shoddy editing, and a bad cover gives the wrong first impression of your book and can kill sales.
The third option is to publish with a small press. Most of these do not require an agent to submit so you can contact them directly. There are a large number of small presses, some which specialize in particular genres and styles and others that publish a broad range of titles. Some are digital only which means if you’ve always dreamed of having your book on library and bookshop shelves, this isn’t going to happen. Like everything else, I suggest you do your research before sending your manuscript to any small press. Some have very limited distribution channels and some only do print copies on demand. Some have hidden costs associated with their services and should be treated with care. You will also likely have to drive the bulk of marketing and publicity yourself as most small presses have limited resources for this.
How you publish is not a decision to take lightly, so take your time and do your research. And don't get discouraged by rejections. They are just part of the process and while they sting, they won't kill you. After a while you will be able to brush them off like any other annoyance, as crazy as that might sound to you now. I can say that because I've had close to 300 rejections in my writing career, and expect more each and every time I send a new manuscript out into the world.
And I'm still breathing!
Feel free to get in touch if you have any follow-up questions.