The Black Art of Publishing

The first book one ever publishes has a magical quality about it. You spend many hours, weeks and a month slaving over a hot keyboard and then to see your brainchild appear in book form is quite thrilling.

The process of turning a manuscript into a book seems in itself to be quite magical. Until recently the traditional route to publishing was through an Printingestablished publisher. Depending on the genre and whether it is to be published as a fiction or non-fiction book, would determine the route that eventually ensures your book arrives on the shelves of various bookstores. In recent years, many more books are read as e-books, including the more traditional academic literature.

Historically, aspiring writers would be advised to find a literary agent, in the first instance, who would be willing to tout their wears within the publishing community, selling your masterpiece to the highest bidder. It may sound simple enough, but having spent a long time writing your book, it would probably take as long, if not longer, to secure an interest with an agent and then that of a publisher. The final decision whether a publisher is likely to risk publishing a book is, understandably, based on commercial factors in the first instance. The publishing team needs to estimate the possible sales to be generated against the cost of production as well as the reputation of the author, if they have published before. Finally, there is also an element of personal preference and house style of the publisher.

For the more academic type books, one would make contact direct with the Commissioning Editor, providing a fairly extensive book proposal and depending on the publisher, also a sample chapter of the proposed book. This is to provide evidence of the fact that one is actually capable of writing. It was through this route that I have successfully published my previous books. The traditional route to publishing is fairly lengthy and could take anything from 6 to 18 months.

However, with the creation of Kindle and their print-on-demand and e-IMG_1478platform, as well as other e-publishers, all that has changed. Any budding author is now able to publish their masterpiece on line with the control of the complete publishing process. It has both its advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that the author can publish a book whenever they are ready without the lengthy process of finding an agent and publisher who might be interested in their book. The downside is that the whole process of publishing is quite complex, although doable.

Whether it is a case of ignorance is bliss, the Kindle platform appears to be relatively straightforward offering guidance along the way. As Kindle has the largest slice of the e-book pie, I thought it probably the best place to start my self-publishing experience. I have also found the book by Rick Smith, CreateSpace & Kindle: Self-Publishing Masterclass, incredible helpful. It has and continues to act as a reference to me along each step of the publishing journey. I may feel differently about the straightforward nature of the process when I actually get to the final stage of publishing my book. I will let you know!

True to my research background, I have carried out endless research as to the pros and cons of self-publishing versus the traditional route through an established publisher. The overriding advice is that no matter which route one decides to use for self-publishing, the product has to be good. Self-publishing does not mean that a shoddy piece of writing is acceptable; not if you’re serious about making any money with the book. As I mentioned in my last blog, the advice is that with an e-book the cover is even more important than with a paper book. An eye-catching cover can make all the difference to the eventual sales of the book. This is the reason why I am involved in some serious soul searching of what theme to select for the cover. As I have a number of professional designers and artists in the family, I might opt for their help in designing the cover.

Of course, irrespective of one’s motivation for writing and publishing a book, it would be nice to sell some copies. As I’ve discovered, there is also a science in deciding which price bracket to opt for and as I am still in the early stages of publishing, it is a decision I have not yet had to make. I am beginning to understand why it takes a long time to get a manuscript into book form. I am also beginning to appreciate why the royalties offered through a traditional publisher are so small.

The conclusion I am beginning to reach is that there is so much more to publishing a book than meets the eye! Who knows what other challenges I will encounter until my book is finally published.


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