Saturday, October 4, 2014
By now, many of you may have tried sending out the query to publishers/agents and have heard back a "no, thanks" or nothing at all. Some of you may be ready to do this but don't want the rejection that you know will happen from at least one publisher.
One question to ask yourself is, is the future of publishing really with the big named publishers like Scholastic or Harlequin?
Take a look at "50 Shades of Grey". It may not be the best written book, but it sure had subject matter that people wanted to read about and it was published by a firm many of us have never heard of: The Writer’s Coffee Shop, the Australia-based e-book and print-on-demand establishment.1
John Grisham's "A Time To Kill" only had a printing of 5,000 and they didn't sell out. So, he bought 1,000 himself and, "Only briefly thwarted, he decided to make similar stops all over the state. Places such as Starkville, Coffeeville and Calhoun City. Friends of the library would make punch and cookies; Grisham would answer questions. About three months and 30 libraries later, he finally sold all of his copies."2
Fast forward to 2014 and do a quick search on the internet for "publishers" and thousands of small, self-starting publishers will pop up. Some may be shady, asking you to pay for certain things up front, which you should NEVER do when trying to publish your book. Others may publish books that can only be bought in e-book format or print-on-demand. You have to look deep inside yourself and figure out how far and how much stress are you willing to go through in order to get your story out there into the hands of people you don't know?
I know when my short story for the anthology "Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal"
was picked up by Robot Playground, I was excited! It didn't matter to me that they were a start up and this was their first major venture into publishing. The process was exciting and not very stressful. They did all the marketing, told us what things we should be doing and when, and even asked our advice on the cover (which many big publishers will not ask you about). Now, I'm thinking of publishing with them again in the next year or so. The owner is currently in classes on marketing and will be hiring a staff in the near future. This is a business she is proud of and trying to get off the ground. I would love to be a part of this.
There are so many options out there for your story, so please do not give up. The future of publishing may be e-books, self publishing to Amazon.com and other sites. Those of us who have amazing stories to tell, but will never (or were never) picked up by Scholastic or will not have the overnight success of Stephenie Meyer or JK Rowling can still get our stories told. That's what we want, right? To touch one other person with our words? You can do that, you just have to carefully research the publishers that are out there, the correct way to put your book on Amazon yourself or you can do it 'the old fashioned' way...you can send out those query letters to Harper Collins or the agent who helped publish your favorite series.
However, know that the chances of your story being the next "Twilight" or "The Lightning Thief" is slim. There is so much competition out there, you may have to pick the path less traveled if you are ready to publish. But don't relax on the editing, the beta readers and proofreading! This has to be done with any book even if a big name didn't pick it up. Put your best work out there and keep writing. Plug your work at your local library, bookstore, on line, with family and friends, with your online blogging friends, give a signed copy of your book as gifts or prizes. Eventually, you'll get the fan base that will give you the energy and love to keep writing.
1) Peterson, Valerie, "Fifty Shades of Book Publishing Success." About.com. September 25, 2014. http://publishing.about.com/od/Books/a/Fifty-Shades-Of-Book-Publishing-Success.htm
2) Moore, Dennis. June 22, 2009. "John Grisham Marks 20th Anniversary of A Time To Kill". USA Today. September 25, 2014. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2009-06-21-john-grisham-a-time-to-kill_N.htm