Thursday, April 10, 2014

Published, Published or Published

Recently I read an article on Writer’s Digest when the title of another article caught my eye: Don’t Give Up Until You Have Queried 80 Agents or More. Basically the advice to aspiring authors was “if you are serious about getting published, then don’t even think about giving up until you’ve queried at least one hundred agents.”

Hmm, getting published. It seems to me that there are a variety of ways to do this (many of which don’t involve querying a hundred agents) depending on what your definition of “getting published” is.
If your dream is to attract the attention of a major New York publishing house, win a multi-book contract, and publish the next number one bestseller, I suspect you might need an agent and much more to do this. I didn’t go this route so I can’t say.

In today’s electronic world, if your goal is simply to have a book for sale, you can e-publish it yourself using Kindle Direct Publishing or a similar service that costs you nothing. However, if you don’t put a great deal of effort into creating a quality product and then promoting it, no one outside of your family is likely to buy and read it. Likewise, if you want to hold a book in your hands, it may cost you a bit but there are always vanity publishers. Either way, you will be published according to the basic definition.

If each of these scenarios defines the ends of the spectrum but there is a vast area in the middle. With many smaller, publishing companies emerging in our digital world, I decided it might be easier to get noticed by one of them. I did my research and found publishers of my genre who accepted queries directly from authors. I looked for companies that produced a high quality product and had a good reputation among their authors. I found a great one.

Does signing with a small press mean you won’t have a shot at that bestseller? No. Your book sales are in your hands. If you read nothing else, read this. I am assuming that if you seriously want to be published, what you actually want is to sell your book—to get it in the hands of readers. If that isn’t important to you, don’t waste anyone else’s time; simply self-publish. The reality is, if you want to sell your book, regardless of whether you self publish, sign with a big New York house, or something in between, you must be willing to put the effort into promoting it. A midlist New York author recently told me that when she started writing, she thought it was her job to create a great book and the publisher’s job to sell it. Only recently has she realized that to truly be successful, she must take an active role in promoting her books. She is learning how to establish a social media platform and find effective promotional tools.

So, like skinning a cat, there is more than one way to get published. However, no matter how you do it, your success as an author rests largely with you.


Big Mike said...

Took me 120 query letters before I got the call.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Jim Woods, Champagne's African adventurer, told me about Champagne on a cruise ship in the South Pacific.

It only took me 20 years!

Stay with quality. The evil that we write "lives after us..."