From my perspective most things in life require; desire, commitment, education, training, and practice. Publishing and becoming a best-selling published author, although related, are at two ends of the spectrum. I tell anyone looking to become a published author: don’t expect to make money at it. You do it because you want to show off your creation, much like showing your baby’s picture. Writing is a lot of work and takes time and effort. However, the hardest part of the process is no longer publishing. Publishing is much simpler, more streamlined and less costly than it used to be. Today, thanks to the tools available, anyone can do it, and it can cost as little as nothing.
Since publishing my first novel over three years ago, I often get to talk to people about writing. What I have noticed is that most of those conversations quickly turn to their own desire to write. Some friends express wanting to write something about being a grandparent, some military contacts want to compile their journals, and others are kicking around stories or even novels in their heads, some of them for years. Whatever the scenario, it can be done, and YOU can do it.
I know I share a goal with many other authors to help writers become published authors. None of my contacts have progressed to the final stage yet, but several are actively working towards publication. It is a nice feeling realizing I know enough about the steps involved to help them in their journey. I’ve learned much in the last three years. However, I forget the people I am conversing with have little knowledge about the latest publication process.
Their knowledge resembles my own knowledge of the process back in 2000. I had written a manuscript and was told in order to get it published I needed an agent. Publishing houses dealt mostly with agents, who did the upfront screening process. So, I went through the query letter process trying to find an agent. In some states it might be called a Sink Hole. Most of us now know that painful and unrewarding route is no longer the required path to becoming a published author. But, for the most part it is still the general perception of what it takes to be published.
• If you want to be a published author, plan on self-publishing! Life is too short to waste time.
There are several tools available for publishing, but I’m more familiar with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and find it meets my needs quite well.
There is a saying “no pain, no gain.” I made another mistake in my publication quest, which I caution you not to make. My second attempt at getting published ten years later involved an internet search. I found an organization looking for new authors. I followed up with them, and to my surprise they were interested in reviewing my manuscript. After I sent it to them, they thought my writing had merit. They said if I would consent, they would send my information to a sister organization to see if they were interested in publishing it. I should not have been surprised that they also expressed a desire to indeed publish that manuscript.
What I didn’t know at the time was that this was a so called ‘vanity press.’ They published my book, but it took well over a year and cost almost $4,000 including editing.
• Do not fall for an organization that wants to publish your work for a fee. You do not need to spend that money. Check out this article on scams to save yourself.
Having six books all self-published, and a first draft of the seventh just completed, I have experience with self publishing. I should mention, I still had rights to that first published novel, and used those rights to self publish it. Of course, I had to discontinue the existing publisher’s rights. That has been like trying to kill a Great White Shark with a BB gun.
Since I do not spend much time on marketing, I can say this – the hardest part of self-publishing is what it should be…completing the actual source document. It takes far more time to complete writing the product, than publishing it. My peers would argue marketing is the hardest part of publishing, and maybe that is why I don’t spend much time on it.
These are some suggestions I would like to offer you –
- Check out the Indies Unlimited site as it is a wealth of information and supports independent authors, or Indies.
- If you want to try your hand at writing something, check out the weekly Flash Fiction competition on this site. It is free and a good opportunity to hone some skills.
- Stop talking about it and just do it (write).
- If you are thinking about writing a full length novel, rather than a short story, I recommend you get a copy of The Marshall Plan for NOVEL WRITING by Evan Marshall. It is sub-titled – A 16-step program guaranteed to take you from idea to completed manuscript.
- Here is a great step-by-step guide for aspiring and newbie authors: I’ve Written a Book, How Do I Publish It
It took me over ten years to get my first book published, and it took persistence. I feel proud of what I have accomplished, and know I can keep adding to that inventory. Publishing is still evolving, but is definitely moving away from a gatekeeper industry. YOU now have efficient and available tools, and coupled with sites like Indies Unlimited there to educate you. If being a published author is on your bucket list, you can do it!