Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Three Paths to Publication

Our power provider sent a crew over this morning to trim the trees in our back yard. While doing this, they asked if we wanted them to remove some dead branches that have been hanging menacingly since the last big storm. We said yes, because who wants to walk around the back yard with the threat of a huge limb falling on your head? 

I could segue this observation into a metaphor on trimming dead wood from your manuscript in order to save it, but I had other plans.

I attended a wonderful workshop at the Carolinas Romance Writers in Charlotte last Saturday. Trish Milburn talked about not putting all your literary eggs in one basket. No, she didn't mean you should write novels, poetry and op ed pieces in the local newspaper in order to increase your chances of publication. Nor did she tell us we needed to write in several different genres, although that has worked well for others.

Trish was comparing the three tracks of publishing: large (read New York) publishers, small independent publishers and self-publishing.

With a large publisher, an author gets the prestige, professional editing, cover art and promotion with distribution to book stores, book clubs and all the perks one could want. There's also an advance, and who doesn't like money up front? The catch is, it's very difficult to get on with a big publisher if you are an unknown or are writing something that doesn't blend in with the current trends.

I read an article lately describing how an author deliberately submitted a best selling novel to the big houses and was rejected every time--even by the house that had originally published the book. He was told that his writing had certain resemblances to the authentic author, but wasn't something they could take a chance on.

That's how hard it is.

It isn't easy to get accepted by a small publishing house, but it is doable if you believe in yourself enough to be persistent and keep sending out that query letter. With a smaller house, you have more imput in cover design and they will put more effort in promoting a niche book than the big houses will. It also doesn't take as long from acceptance to holding the book in your hand.

But--you are less likely to see your book in a bookstore window display. This is a drawback, because authors are still being discovered by people browsing the shelves and thumbing through books with a cover that screams, "Open me!" 

In self-publishing, you do have complete control of your book--and all the responsibility. Trish recommended spending the money for a professional editor and professional cover design. Your book should be comparable in quality to a book released by Random House or Simon and Schuster. Because, guess what? If a reader buys a sloppily plotted and edited book, she will never buy a book written by that author again.

I've been delighted with my small, independent publisher, Draumr Publishing. They published "Angels Unaware" in the summer of 2010, and "The Lunch Club" will be released June 30 of this year.

If that isn't a definition of a dream come true, I don't know what is.


  1. Hi Sandy, lots of different ways to go.


  2. Excellent post. I'm glad you're having a good experience with your small publisher and thank you for the information on your own trek.
    All info on how to publish is useful!

  3. I'm not sure I'll ever get published by a big 6 but I love my small publisher, TWRP. I have plans to be self published by the end of this year though. Great post.