Friday, 8 February 2013

Publishing. Where to start?

I received an email this week from a fellow writer who read my interview in the local paper. He didn’t know anyone else who writes (or is actively trying to) and had no idea what to do with his novel when it was completed.

It got me thinking about way back when. Me and my laptop would batter out nonsense I thought must be a literary masterpiece (yes, I’m very naïve), but like my fellow writer I had no idea where to go from The End.

There are so many options out there these days that it’s hard to choose. Do you go indie? Traditional? Try for an agent? Submit to one of the thousands of epublishers out there?

I wasn’t sure how to set up everything myself, and being a bit of a technophobe (blogging is a challenge for me) I felt more comfortable having someone else do the uploading.

But after three years of researching, getting to know some wonderful authors and publishers, I had some advice to pass on to my fellow writer and I thought other newbies might benefit from the information. So, I’ve put it all into three categories.


I don’t have one, but two of my critique partners have signed up so I know a little about this route.

The Pros:

An agent will help you get the manuscript as perfect as you can before presenting it to publishers.

Most agents have good relationships with editors they work with often.

They keep up to date with what’s selling and what’s not.

Agents will act as sound boards for new ideas and tell you honestly whether they think there is a market for your planned book.

Agents are helpful during the revision process, promotion and everything else an author faces from signing that contract to getting your book out there.

The Cons:

I can only think of one. You have to pay a percentage of your royalties for the privilege. From what I hear that small figure is worth it.


Again, I have a good friend who has gone down this road and I know it hasn’t been easy, but a year later she’s reaping the rewards. Plus I’ve done a little research myself.

The Pros:

You make 100% of net sales, meaning you get to keep what the online retailer pays out on the book rather than a percentage.

You can work to your own schedule, organise your own releases, pull whatever books aren’t selling and add new ones at will.

You are your own boss.

There are only self-imposed deadlines.

More authors are going indie every day and most of the books you can buy now are great quality, so there’s a higher chance readers will buy.

You can make any book free when you like (this is a bit harder to do on Amazon) to knock it higher up the sales ranks.

The Cons:

The pressure is all on you to make sure there’s no mistakes; grammatical, format wise or spelling.

You have to format the book individually for each retailer as they all have varying formats. Although if you pay Smashwords a small percentage of your earnings they will do this for you and upload to places like iTunes and B & N taking some of the headache away.

Mistakes in indie books tend to be pointed out by reviewers. Having your story professionally edited is a must.

You’re on your own with promotion. Some publishers help a lot, others as much as they can but when you go indie the pressure is all on you.

You have to either do your own cover (which is hard, if like me you can’t work design programs!) or pay to have one made up.

‘Traditional’ Publishing

Here’s what I’ve discovered from my experience.

The Pros:

Your book is professionally edited.

Your cover is designed with your input (although some publishers refuse to change it, even if you hate the thing).

The publisher will do some promotion of your book.

The publisher will do all the dreaded formatting and upload the book to various retailers.

Most publishers will send your book to various companies for review (mine does and I know of a few others who do).

All you have to do is concentrate on your share of the promotion and your next book.

The Cons:

You only make a percentage of those ‘net’ royalties I mentioned earlier.

Depending on your contract terms, you can wait longer to be paid than if you went down the indie route.

If the publisher goes bust it can be hard to get the rights to your story back (unless you have a ‘the rights will revert to you’ clause in your contract).

You have to negotiate the contract yourself unless you have an agent. A publishing contract varies from house to house and aren’t in layman’s terms! I’m so lucky I work for lawyers :o)

So, there you have it!

I’m sure I’m missing a lot, and if there’s anything you’re unsure about leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.



  1. Great post, Aimee. No diamanté on your knuckle dusters.

  2. Great advice Aimee! I've done 'traditional small press' and self-pubbed. I haven't tried the agent route, perhaps one day!

  3. Thanks Girls. Lacey, I've not either but it's tempting...