A Question About Publishing

Today’s question comes from Dai’Ja Reed who wrote, “Hi, I am a young writer finishing up my first fiction novel. I have questions about the publishing process and affordability of the traditional publishing route.”

First, it makes me happy that a young person is taking up the art of writing, so let’s dive into this question

The first thing I want to cover in this question is, you are thinking way too soon in the future. As you said, you’re finishing up your first novel. This does not mean it is ready to publish, only that you have the first draft. This is very different than having a publishable work. You will need to read the work and rewrite many parts of it before the work is ready. And even after multiple rewrites, you’re still going to need it edited. I suggest contacting MMT Productions for they specialize in helping people realize their dreams about publishing.

Let’s assume you’ve actually finished all the rewrites and are ready to let the book go to the wild. That’s fantastic! And from the looks of it, you want to go the traditional publishing route. The first thing you’ll need to do is grow a thick skin. Traditional publishing is a long and arduous process full of rejection. Look up the career of any writer and you will see how long it takes to be picked up by a traditional publisher. Yes, there are people who became famous and received a publishing deal with the first publisher they spoke to, but that is outside of the norm.

I’m letting you know right up front – the big traditional publishers out there reject 99% of the manuscripts sent to them. Even my publishing company will only take what is considered the cream of the crop. That’s saying something about the quality of writing out there. I’m not saying your writing is not good enough. The problem is very multidimensional and is based on what we have in the pipes at the time.

Think of it this way, if you’ve written a book about an elf who falls in love with a human in today’s world (an urban fantasy novel), and we already have something like that which is being edited for publication, then we would not accept your work because it would cause direct conflict. There are other reasons as well, but those are the main ones.

But I’m now digressing in the answer, so let’s get back on point.

With a traditional publisher, there is no cost to the author.

That’s right, no cost. A traditional publisher will pay for everything. But what I don’t want you to think is that you will get an advance on royalties, that only happens to tried and true authors. And you may not like the terms of the first contract you get, for it will favour the publishing company, who will spend a lot of money getting your book ready. Remember, the greater the risk the greater the rewards? They will be out several thousand getting your book ready, so they get a bigger slice.

As you can see, there is no upfront cost to publishing a book when you go the traditional route, but you will end up with less income on your first book. Maybe not so much on the second, and the third will offer you a better royalty base with the big companies.

Now comes the next part, can you get published?

Age may come into play. I don’t know how old you are, but publishing involves contracts and legal documents. If you are not in the age of majority, you may not be able to sign the publishing contract.

There are geographical lines. Where do you live (country, that is)? Some companies only take authors from certain areas, and that could cause you an issue.

It gets more difficult after that, but the main question about affordability is easy to answer.

In the process, first, you have to look at who you want to submit to and follow their submission process. That means, read and follow to the letter. Not doing so will get an early rejection of your manuscript. Don’t skimp and think you’re above it, just follow it. Remember, they don’t know who you are and the submission process will tell them if you are able to follow instructions. This comes into play early, because editing a manuscript takes time and money. If you don’t follow simple instructions when submitting your work to them, why would they believe you would work well with an editor?

So there you have it, the simple part put together for you. Good luck with your manuscript and I hope you have all the success you deserve.