Okay, you found your muse. You puked out your book without looking back. You did a read through and an edit. You passed it off to others to edit. You're considering your publishing path. What is the right move?
Here are your options. You can go big time, big school, and try to get into one of the big houses on your very first book. You can opt for a small press house who is, perhaps, a little more open to ideas, but doesn't have quite the backing of the big houses. Or, you can go it alone.
Let's start big. If you're feeling adventurous, and I'll admit I think you should start here, look into some of the big houses. Do your research. Avon, Simone and Schuster, Penguin... oh, you know them. You're in this to get published. First things first, you're going to find most of them do not accept unsolicited submissions. What does that mean? It means don't query them, don't send your manuscript, don't waste your time. If you're sending printed material it will end up in the trash, if you query them via email they are going to send it to the delete folder. You're going to need an agent.
Now you have to find an agent who represents your genre of book, is taking new clients, is taking clients who have never published before, and one you can get to who is legit. There are many a website to guide you in the right direction here. Many of them will surely tell you who NOT to go with.
The process to obtain an agent is much the same as trying to get through to smaller publishing houses. But that is the next discussion. The dreaded query and synopsis. They are going to be working for you, so remember they aren't working for free. But they are your ticket into a big house!
Back to houses. With a big house you're going to get exposure. They are in with the big stores and your book will be on a shelf. Isn't that what we all want? You might get an advance even. It is all very exciting.
However, is this your first book?
You might want to look around and get your feet wet first.
A small press publisher isn't going to have big deals with book stores. Chances are they will do mostly eBook publishing, but really that's the trend, right? You're going to be only royalty base paid, no advances, but you're going to be a bigger fish in a smaller sea.
Small presses usually print books on demand (POD.) That means when someone orders a book it is printed and shipped out. Still the same quality as any other book. Sometimes small presses can even offer bigger royalty percentages. With a small house you're going to have a lot more say in your book. The title might stay the same as the one you labeled it. If you're not cookie cutter in your genre, a small publisher is more likely to accept an "off beat" book.
Now the downside. You need to do your homework! Small presses come and go. They are a dime a dozen. Some of them are not upstanding at all. Have someone look over the contracts! I once signed a contract for lifetime rights to a publisher who never put the book out on more sites than Amazon and their own. They also haven't paid royalties. (So I digress, you can imagine I have a battle brewing.) But my point is ask around. People are happy to give you their opinion of what they think when it comes to their publisher.
A small publisher is going to give you a lot more freedom to get the book you wanted to put out in the first place, but you're going to have to do some of the foot work. (Promoting yourself is another topic coming up.) They're not going to have marketing firms working for them. They are going to be working their tails off for you and you'll need to work your tail off too.
A small publishing house is not usually going to require you to have an agent either, so your royalties will be yours and you won't have to share them with an agent, but you're going to have to cover your own back. If things go wrong, be prepared to fight the battle on your own.
Now, and very popular, is indie publishing. Going on your own and publishing your own book. With ereaders and sites like Kindle Direct Publishing, PubIt (Barnes and Noble), Smashwords...just to name a few... indie publishing is easier than you could have ever imagined! POD is well within the reach of every author out there and very reasonable when it comes to cost. Create Space will let you upload yourself, or for a price, they will do every part of your book.
You might imagine with so many indie publishers out there there are lots of professionals looking to cash in too. Editors. Proofreaders. Cover designers. File converters...you name it. If you need guidance in any of these areas there is someone you can pay to take care of it. But go wisely. Do your homework. What good is writing a great book and having someone else wreck it?
Again, I stress, if you go this route, be professional. Have a good cover and edit your book.
Going indie offers you all the freedom in the world. You get to launch when you want. You get to ask the price you want. You make all the profit. Now remember...you do all the work. You upload all the books. You are in charge of the success or failure of your book and you can't blame anyone else. Indie authors are in an enormous sea and they are tiny little fish. But with the right attitude and a good book you can make it! You can be a bestseller. And you can make a living.
Each avenue offers its own rewards. But start big and go for the big houses and the agents. I want you to be rejected! Tune in tomorrow and find out why.