Introduction to Getting Published
Today, I’m excited to announce a new category at Writing Forward: “Getting Published” will explore the many options available to writers who want to make their work available to the public.
We’ll look at different types of publishing, including self-publishing, traditional publishing, and publishing in literary journals and magazines. We’ll also explore digital and electronic publishing.
From its inception, Writing Forward‘s core focus has been on the craft of writing. I’ve avoided delving into the business side of writing, including submissions, marketing, and publishing, because craft must come first. All the business stuff comes later. However, it’s beneficial for young and new writers to start building an understanding of the business side of things, especially if they hope to become full-time, professional authors.
There are many exciting changes happening in the world of publishing, so the old rules and procedures don’t necessarily apply anymore, which means we all need to stay on top of what’s going on in publishing in terms of how new industry standards affect writers.
We’ll start our foray into the world of publishing with a simple look at the different publishing options available to writers.
Five Publishing Methods
1. Traditional (or Legacy) Publishing is when your book is published through an established publishing house or company, such as Knopf or Random House. Writers submit their work to literary agents first. An agent will then work to sell your book to a publisher (note: small press publishers may ask authors to submit directly instead of using an agent). Authors typically face a lot of rejection before landing an agent and again before the agent sells the book to a publishing house. Once the book is sold, it can be a year before it’s actually published. The author usually receives an advance (a chunk of money) when the book is sold then gets royalties once the book pays out (earns back the advance amount). The publisher may assist with or perform any of the following: editing, proofreading, book cover, distribution, book tours and other forms of marketing.
2. Self-Publishing is when you publish your own work. There are many available methods for self-publishing both electronically and in print. When you self-publish, you are not constrained by rejections, time limitations, or creative decisions imposed by second- and third-parties. You are in completely in control. You are also solely responsible for every element of publishing, including editing, proofreading, book cover, distribution, and all marketing. Whereas traditionally published authors share their profits with agents and publishing houses, self-published authors retain all revenues from their book sales.
3. Publishing in Literary Magazines and Journals is one of the most popular and best ways for young and new writers to get published. Literary magazines and journals exist electronically and in print and tend to publish short stories, poems, and essays. Some of them pay writers; others offer an issue of their publication or no compensation other than a writing credit. This method of publishing is ideal for writers who are starting out and trying to build a repertoire.
4. Print-on-Demand Publishing is a publishing method where copies of a book are printed as they are ordered. One of the drawbacks is that copies of the book do not sit on shelves, which is one way to attract new readers. On the other hand, there is no cost for printing thousands of books before they’re sold. Print-on-demand is mostly used by self-published authors.
5. Electronic and Digital Publishing is a publishing method where the work is published to an electronic platform. This includes ebooks (for Kindles and Nooks, for example) as well as anything published online (like the blog you’re reading right now). Electronic publishing has tremendous cost-saving benefits, which is why Kindle books are often a fraction of the cost of their print counterparts. Ebook publishing is undergoing tremendous growth and looks to be the future of publishing. Both traditional publishing houses and self-published authors typically publish work electronically.
Writing Comes First
If publishing is in your future, it’s important to remember that writing comes first. Before you can get published, you have to write something worth publishing. However, once you’re ready to think about getting published, there are a lot of options to consider. Will you go the traditional route or will you self-publish? Will you focus on electronic publishing or are you more concerned with getting copies of your book in bookstores? What’s in your publishing future?