Publishing 101

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I participate in a bunch of writing groups on Facebook and every couple of weeks a newbie writer usually joins and asks a general question about the best route for publishing. I’ve answered this question so many times online that I decided to make a blog post about it for others who may just be starting out on their publishing journey.

First of all – if a so-called traditional publisher wants you to pay them money, run away. In publishing money should flow to the author, not the other way around. There are a lot of vanity and subsidy presses out there and in general that is not a good way to go. The main advantage you get from traditional publishing is not having to pay for editing, covers, illustrations, etc. If they are charging you might as well pay directly to editors, artists, etc and retain control over your books.

Among genuine trad presses there are different kinds. On the top tier are the big 5 and to get into those and other high quality large distribution publishers you will usually need an agent and the process is likely to take a while, but it may well be worth it for you to at least try. Send out some queries to agents, see if they bite. If they don’t you can still apply to smaller presses or self-publish.

And now we come to small press. Small press is generally good for those who don’t feel comfortable doing everything themselves. Usually you don’t need an agent and you apply directly and have more chance they’ll accept you. But the problem is there are a gazillion small presses out there and a lot of them are not very good, so definitely do your research if you go this way. Check the books the publisher has published and get someone to look over any contract you’re offered.

I began my publishing journey with a small press, that has since closed its doors and today I self-publish. I’m happy both with the start they gave me and with the control I have today over my books. At the beginning I knew nothing about publishing, so the small press was a good way to start. I learned so much in the last few years from other indies in various groups I participated in both in real life and on Facebook that now I feel confident self-publishing and would only go back to trad if it was with one of the big boys.

Remember though it is your journey and your book, so what worked for me may not be the same for you. Good luck and happy writing!

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Why the Distinction? – A guest post by Kristine Raymond

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Why the distinction?

A photographer takes pictures, builds a portfolio, and opens a studio.

An artist paints day and night, assembles a collection, and hosts a showing at a local gallery.

A musician rehearses for months in his band mate’s garage, records an album, and releases it under his own label.

An author writes for hours, agonizing over every word, edits and polishes the manuscript, then self-publishes and… wait. What? They self-publish?? Shock and horror abound.

When I tell people I’m an author, the first question I’m almost always asked is “Who’s your publisher?” Why does that matter? I’m asking; in the general scheme of things, why does the name of the publisher I list on my creation matter anymore than the name you put on yours? Why is what I create deemed inferior because it lacks the stamp of approval from a recognizable publishing house?

Your picture is slightly out of focus. There’s a smear on the right hand corner of your canvas. That last chord was off-key. You adjust, you fix your mistakes, and your next project is better than the last. Humans learn by doing; by pushing themselves to evolve, to master new techniques, to perfect their masterpiece.

Authors are no different; self-published or not. We make mistakes, and we fix them. We hone our skill and write a better story. Being self-published does not make us less than. Rather, it takes an immense amount of courage to release our creations to the world, to have them studied and critiqued and, oftentimes, ridiculed. We’re no different than any other artist out there, yet self-published authors are looked down upon, even by those in the same circles.

So, I ask again; why the distinction?

Yes, the process for publishing a book has become, for lack of a better word, easy. Anyone can do it; and it doesn’t necessarily have to cost money, depending on the product the author is comfortable selling. But artists sell their paintings on Etsy and musicians sell their music on CD Baby. What’s the difference? Outlets for creative work are available for a reason; because real talent was going unrecognized by those guarding the gates.

Are my books all that? I leave it to my readers to decide. Will I, one day, be able to add the title of best-selling author to my books? Time will tell. It would be nice, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not the reason I self-publish. I discovered a hidden well of creativity inside me, a true enjoyment for writing, and, truth be told, I like just letting the words flow. More importantly, I like writing them my way, without someone standing over me critiquing this or deleting that. I had enough of that during my school years.

I believe creativity is subjective. Different is good. Writing a story shouldn’t be like fixing a carburetor. It’s not the formulaic process many believe. It’s an art form; words are the medium rather than film or paint or notes.

So, do me a favor. Please stop equating self-publishing with less than. Please stop undervaluing the time and effort I put into my art. Will what I release ten years from now be better than what I released last month? I sure as hell hope so. I have no desire to churn out the same thing over and over. I want to learn new techniques, apply them to my work, craft something beautiful and worthy of awe. What artist doesn’t?

Good or bad, I’m shaping my own future, and the responsibility as such lies squarely on my shoulders. You know what? I can live with that.

Now, go create something beautiful …
~ Kristine Raymond

Connect with Kristine on her blog www.kristineraymond.com

There you’ll find out about her books and can sign up for her newsletter.