EelKat Wendy C Allen - zdark Fantasy Author

Publishing Methods:
Looking for some advice on how to publish a book?

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  • How much does it cost?

If trade pubbing it costs nothing. Avoid any publisher that requests money - they are scams. Trade publishers do all the work. Editing, formatting, cover art, and they never charge you for those things.

Some authors, before sending it to a publisher, like to hire an editor to edit it first, so that they send a polished draft to the publisher. So that's a possible expense.

Do know that the average fee for professional editing services is around $200 an hour, and plan on about $2,000 average to edit your manuscript.

Use caution when finding editors on places like Fiverr - English is rarely their first language and many authors have found their manuscripts trashed into a gibberish illiterate mess. Some authors recommend Fiverr, but most say to avoid anything you find on Fiverr.

If self-pubbing, it only costs money if you hire out services. For example if you hire an editor to edit it. Or if you hire someone to format it. Or if you hire someone to make the cover art.

If hiring a cover artist, plan on $50 to $2,000 for the cover, with $200 to $300 being average. Again, some authors have found good work on Fiverr - BUT MOST Fiverr users are making cover art with stolen images they do not have the rights to use and many authors who buy covers on Fiverr run into copyright issues later on, so be careful if you go the Fiverr road.

These are all things you can do yourself for free or you could do some and hire others for the rest. It depends on your skill in editing, formatting, and cover art design.

If trade pubbing plan on a year or two, from the time you start submitting it, to the time it gets accepted, and another year or two before it is published (up to 4 years, with 2 being typical, from the time you finish writing to the time it is published.)

If self pubbing, plan on 6 months to a year, of you doing nothing but editing, editing, editing, formatting, reformatting, and making cover art, before you get around to publishing it.

How does someone self publish?

Most use Amazon Kindle (KDP), some use SmashWords, others use LuLu. There's a few others, but I'm not familiar with the rest.

I prefer Amazon myself, just because it's easy. They have super simple step by step instructions to follow, and your book can be available in minutes.

If trade publishing, I recommend getting a copy of the current Writer's Market (a directory of all book publishers - sort of like a yellow pages phone book). It's your best friend. It'll help you find agents, publishers, and steer you away from scams. The 2018 edition should be out in a few weeks, you should probably wait for that edition as it'll be the most up to date.

Wither trade or self, make sure the book is edited.

  • If self pubbing, you'll also have to format it and either make or have made cover art.

I use LibreOffice to format my manuscripts. And ChaseyDraw to make my cover art. Both are free. ChaseyDraw is basically a freeware version of PhotoShop.

  • If trade pubbing, they'll handle formatting and cover art.

NOTE: no publisher ever asks you for money. They do not charge for editing, formatting, cover art, marketing, or anything else.

You can trade publish without an agent, but most of the super big publishers will only accept agented submissions. Check the publisher's listing in the Writer's Market to see what they accept, when they are open for submissions, and if they require agents or not.

  • If you are looking to get into one of the really big-big-BIG publishers, focus on finding an agent.
  • If you are looking to get into a smaller press, focus on finding a publisher.
  • If you are looking to self publish, focus everything you got on editing, editing, and more editing, as you won't have many outside eyes looking at your draft.

If a publisher is NOT listed in the Writer's Market...
use extreme caution.

A publisher has to pass several tests of legitimacy to get listed in the Writer's Market. If they are not listed, it means they failed one or more tests and are likely a publisher that has shady practices, or are possibly outright scammers. Be careful of any publisher who did not pass the Writer's Market tests.

  • Vanity press is an option, but rarely is it your best option.

If you are writing a mainstream interest book, self pubbing or trade pubbing is a far better way to go. Do not be tempted to go the vanity press road unless you fully research it and understand the extreme amounts of upfront money and unique difficulties that come with it. Some who go the vanity press road have had great success with it, but most only found hardship and disappointment. It is better used for groups then individuals

(Vanity press is great for a church that wants to publish a community cookbook, or a school that wants to publish a class yearbook, for example.)

Vanity press rarely works for novels.

Generally the genre of your book will determine the type of publishing method

  • Self pubbing tends to be best if you are dealing with a small niche that is rarely picked up by big publishers (Yaoi, Bizarro, Weird Horror, Erotica, and short story collections for example).
  • Indie Press, especially College owned University Presses are best for Literary Fiction, Anthologies, or Poetry.
  • Trade pubbing is best for mass market appeal books, like Murder Mysteries, Romances, Fantasy, Science Fiction, YA, etc.
  • Vanity press is best for local interest, local history, stories set in your home town, family history, memories, fundraiser cookbooks, high school yearbooks, and anything that would only sell to a few people in your local area.

Be careful of vanity press pubbing. Some of it is legit, but that sector is rife with scam artists. In REAL vanity press, you hire a printing press to print up physical copies of you book - most have a 10,000 book minimum for paperbacks and 1,000 minimum for hardcover. Plan on spending at MINIMUM $30,000 in printing costs and upwards of $100,000 if you go vanity press. Morris Press is one of the few legit vanity press companies. They are the only one I would personally recommend. Note that all a vanity press does in print up tens of thousands of copies of your book, then deliver them to your front door.

They do not design covers, format, edit, market, or help you sell your book. They are a book printing service ONLY. If you run into a vanity press that says otherwise - RUN! No real book printer, tries to scam you, but there are thousands of fake vanity presses out there who will try to scam you out of your money and give you nothing but heartache.

If you plan on vanity press, look for local copy shops in your town and ask them if they print up books. If they do, they likely offer short runs of only 100. If they don't they can usually direct you to a business that does offer the service. Usually the only reason to go the vanity press road, is if you are publishing a local interest books that wouldn't have mass appeal, and you plan to sell at local mom&pop book stores who promote local authors.

I mention vanity press, because once you start contacting agents and publishers, you'll find your mailbox and email, suddenly filled with "book publishing offers" that sound great, and request you send them your manuscript with a check to cover reading fees. These are NOT real vanity press, nor are they real Indie Press, though they may call themselves that.

  • A REAL vanity press will NEVER contact you or make an offer for a book deal.
  • Any press or publisher who contacts you with a "book offer" when you did not send them a submission or query, is a scam. Do not deal with them. Real publishers do not work that way.