Friday, May 28, 2010

Editing Tip #31: Book Publishing Options

Kathy Ide’s Editing Tips
© Kathy Ide, 2010

In this column, freelance author, editor, and speaker Kathy Ide shares tips on self-editing your manuscript.

~ Book Publishing Options (part one) ~

Today, there are numerous ways to get a book published. This week, we’ll talk about one. In subsequent weeks, we’ll cover some alternatives.

Commercial Publishing
Most writers want to be published by a big, commercial, royalty-paying publisher. But most publishing houses focus the majority of their efforts on previously published authors who already have an established fan base. If you’re not at that level, getting a standard publisher to print your book can be difficult. But it’s not impossible. You can become a commercially published author by taking these steps:

a. Learn the craft. (Take classes, join writers’ groups, study writing books, books on punctuation, grammar, and spelling, and books in your genre. Read blogs with writing tips—like this one!)

b. Publish small pieces first (articles, scripts, Sunday school papers, etc.).

c. Polish your book manuscript. (Do your best and then hire a professional editor.)

d. Decide what types of books you want to become known for. (Publishers aren’t looking for single book ideas; they want to invest in authors who plan to write multiple similar books.)

e. Design a marketing plan for selling your books.

f. Network with people in the industry through conferences and conventions.

g. Prepare a proposal, and get it professionally edited.

h. Submit the proposal to agents and small publishers that accept the kind of writing you do.

i. Send the complete manuscript to any agents or publishers who request it. (And prepare for rejection, because that’s the most likely response.)

j. Wait while one or more publishing committees consider your book idea. (And prepare for rejection, because that’s still the most likely response.)

k. If you get a contract, work with the publisher to edit and proofread your manuscript, then accept their choice of title, book cover, back-cover copy, etc.

l. Promote your book through book signings, radio and TV interviews, your Web site, speaking engagements, social media networking, etc.

m. Approximately one to two years after receiving the contract from the publisher, you’ll receive a few free copies of your book. Order several more at the author’s discount price. Give them to friends, family members, and influential people (like book reviewers).

n. Write more books.

Sound like a lot of work? It is! Writing is a profession, and like most careers, a substantial investment of time and money is required to be successful.

Now, you could hire a professional author to write your book for you. But:

a. Most professional authors are busily working on their own careers.

b. Ghostwriting (aka collaborating or coauthoring) requires a substantial amount of time, which translates into a significant amount of money.

c. Good ghostwriters rarely work on a contingency basis, putting in all the time and expertise required to write a book and pitch it to publishers in exchange for a percentage of potential royalties. This usually only happens with celebrities whose well-recognized names can virtually guarantee high sales.

d. There’s no guarantee that even a great ghostwriter will be able to get your book commercially published.

If this sounds discouraging, don’t despair! Over the next few weeks, I’ll talk about alternatives to commercial publishing.


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Kathy Ide has written books, articles, play and movie scripts, short stories, devotionals, and curriculum. Her books include Polishing the PUGS and Fiction and Truth. Kathy is a full-time freelance editor, offering a wide range of editorial services for authors and publishers. She also speaks at writers’ conferences across the country. She is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network ( and the Christian Editor Network ( To find out more, please visit

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