How to publish a book

Interesting real publishers and legitimate literary agents

Of course, my title is a tease. And this article is all about submitting manuscripts to publishers and literary agents which they might find appealing – the kind that makes them a profit! But first let’s look at the words I’ve tacked on to these people: ‘real’ and ‘legitimate’; they matter.

Reputable publishers and agents are inundated with submissions from writers and don’t need to advertise their services. When they take on a writer, or publish a book, it’s because they believe they can exploit the commercial potential, in other words, make a profit. The writer receives a contract, and a percentage of sales revenue. The risk remains on their shoulders.

Writers Beware! Unscrupulous outfits, termed vanity publishers – or worse, are aware of the vulnerability of writers once praised, and promise to speed their gems into bookshops, but both praise and promises are invariably worthless. These people are after your money and they can be persuasive, persistent and ruthless. They never shoulder any risk, other than the enormous sums they spend on ensuring their names magically appear before unsuspecting victims – the aspiring writer. You!

Getting published the traditional way, submitting work to agents and publishers, should be your first objective. This will demand you focus on the likely market for your book . . . from the word go. And planning the book in such a focused manner will make your book both easier to read . . . and write. You will know where you’re heading, and so will your reader.

Writing can be rewarding and enjoyable, but it seldom pays the bills. Rich writers are a rare breed and should be regarded as worthy lottery winners. To achieve their riches they will have needed luck, perseverance and the backing of a professional publisher. By submitting your work in the traditional manner you are ensuring you have at least a ticket that might scoop a win, even if the odds against a jackpot coming up are slim.

Self publishing makes sense nowadays because, with care, a writer can obtain both printed and electronic (ebooks) versions of their manuscripts for an investment that needn’t shock your wallet or bank manager – if you can find one! But prudent writers should always regard this option as their fallback position unless they have no wish to market their book to the general public.

In recent years, a number of companies have emerged who offer ‘publishing packages’ for writers wishing to see their books in print; a few are worth considering, others offer promises that champion hope over experience, and the majority, I regret to say, trade on the fantasy of great riches and will take you for every penny. Before you go down these routes, take advice, from professionals. We will mark your card for free. We know what it takes to publish your book. And it can be done, should be done, economically.

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