Where should I publish, when it’s complete?
Where should I publish my novella or novel for publishing comes up a lot in Quora. People find themselves confused between self-publishing, traditional publishing, and vanity publishing. One company seems to troll Qoura looking for ways of making money on your shoulders (if you don’t know, they posted here).The answer depends on how you want to publish your book. And how serious you are about being an author.
Let me explain. If you just finished writing your book, then you are not yet ready for publishing because you have a first draft, and no one wants to read a first draft. Even a publishing company with a poor reputation doesn’t want to see your first draft. You may ask why, so the answer to that question is your first draft is just raw writing. It will contain, and I don’t care what level of professional writing you have, multiple errors, and inconsistencies in it to boggle even a seasoned editor. I always wonder if people proofread their work before submitting. They overlook simple errors in multiple submissions and it frustrates our test readers here. If you want to be serious about writing, look over some of my older answers about the steps to publishing (I think someone asks this about every two weeks).
I’ll assume, for the basis of this answer, you have gone through multiple rewrites, edits, critiques, test reads, and such to have a polished work. If not, stop reading here and goto “The Steps to Get Ready to Publish“. This article is an older one I wrote when first putting down my thoughts for Quora. They are the correct ways to ensure your submission is taken seriously. Read them, understand them, live them.
Where Should I Publish
The first thing you will need to do, when you are ready to publish, is figure out where you want to publish. Yes, it is the old chicken and the egg thing. You want to publish, need help, but you need to know where you want to publish. The real answer depends on what form of publishing do you want to do? Traditional, self, or vanity.
Vanity Press – you pay for all the work done on the novel. They do the work from editing to artwork. You will know if it is a vanity press by their submission criteria – they have none. When you see a menu item disclosing your costs when publishing, they are a vanity press. If they do not use the term “Royalties paid to Author” then they are a vanity press. If they demand you buy a certain number of books they print, then they are a vanity press. If they want you to pay for advertising, then they are a vanity press. If they don’t advertise your work once published, they are a vanity press. I looked into the publisher listed below, they are a vanity press. It also looks like they accept everyone who submits to them.
Self-Publishing – you still pay for everything with this one, but you do all the leg work and keep all the money. This happens with a lot of new authors and there is no vetting process like editing, professional artwork, advertising, or test runs. Most new authors going this route may have turn-down letters from publishers and didn’t know how to understand that it was not the story, but the writing that caused it. They sent a first draft or didn’t bother to read and understand the way to write a book properly (see link above or here and start at step 6). In self-publishing you will need to do all the leg work from getting the people to edit to pulling all the stops at advertising. Yes, lots more money but a lot more work.
Traditional Publishing – you still do all the steps outlined above, but you need to decide if a small publisher is the first step. Not all writers will get into a big publisher. In fact, the acceptance rate is low (around .03%). Since the personal computer, the number of people writing has increased, especially in the last 5 years. This overwhelms publishers with submissions from the serious but uninformed writers to agents trying to sell the “Next Big Book”, and unless your name is Steven King or John Grisham, you can forget setting the terms of your contract, unless you have a good agent, but we’ll not get into that in this article. You receive royalties and sometimes an advance. You still need to do a little leg work but they will get the book into the stores for you (or at least make it available) and shake a few of the branches.
So the answer to the question is not an easy one, and we cannot answer it without making assumptions. My suggestion is to first make sure you have done the due diligence part and made sure everything is as perfect as can be. But what you will need to do is research the route you want to take and follow through on the master plan of writing, rewriting, editing, and polishing the work as best as you can.
A note on vanity presses: Two years ago an author who used a Vanity press asked me to look at his book. I commented about the cover being too busy and didn’t tell me much. The script used for the title made it difficult to read. When I opened the book, I asked if they printed the interior this way on purpose, pointing out the use of margins made more pages and that the print was not perfectly square on the page. After looking at the first paragraph, I asked if he also paid for editing (which he did). The issues in the first paragraph told me a lot about his writing, but also about the company he used. Later, I found out he paid over $15,000 to get the book completed (including the cost of purchasing 200 copies of the book). He has sold only 30 copies, and nothing yet online. The novel is not in bookstores. Vanity press is very costly.