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After all of the fancy foot work involved in writing any sort of manuscript is finished, the proofreading, spellchecking, grammatical errors and formatting issues have all been removed, the next step is choosing when and with whom you should publish.
Some authors choose to have an agent that will help them through the entire process while others choose to take on the extra tasks themselves. Either way is fine; an agent can advise a writer and find their personal best publishing options but when the writer takes this aspect onto themselves, some find this to be one of the most difficult parts because there are so many different options available.
A traditional publishing house can be a very good option but keep in mind that the five most prestigious publishing companies(Macmillan, Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin/Random House and Simon & Schuster) can be very difficult to get your manuscript into because they rarely accept manuscripts from relatively unknown authors and when they do, they generally want to know how your work is going to fit in and be profitable for their company. Going with a smaller publishing house can help a writer get published without a lot of restrictions and can help a writer make their way to a larger publisher later on.
Another great option is self publishing. By self publishing, the writer takes on the responsibility of every aspect of what happens with their work. The companies solely for distribution allow the author to keep sole copyright ownership for all paperbacks and most ebooks. Amazon is an exception here because they have an option for the “select” program which helps the author utilize other features that help promote and advertise their books. Of course during the enrollment period of 90 days, Amazon requires those 90 days be exclusive to them (this only applies to enrolled ebooks, not paperbacks). The writer can re-enroll or not after the 90 days is over. If the writer decides not to enroll in the Select program, then they can continue to use other distribution channels like Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, IBooks and many others that operate the same way.
Another option that may or may not be productive is utilizing a print press. There are multiple print presses available online where a writer can upload a manuscript and the cover(s) for the company to print in bulk and the author pays the cost of printing and binding. This option can be useful if an author wants to sell their books themselves or hold local giveaways and book signings.
There is another option that all authors should be aware and beware of: vanity publishing houses. The general rule is to read the fine print, listen carefully and ask questions. If a publishing house is asking you to pay large amounts of money to publish a book it is generally a vanity publishing house or company. These companies have a bad habit of making promises they can’t keep and doing the very same thing a self publishing author can do without their help. If you are unsure if a company is simply a ‘vanity’ publishing company, first click through and read every page on their website. If a 404 error shows on the copyright page you can easily find some other company or call them during business hours and ask them what exactly they help you with. Usually they will just offer to simply send you a publishing package. Refuse this and ask that the person in charge give you a call back because you have some concerns about the copyright page. They will call you back and this is when you will ask all the right questions, and listen to the answers. A good rule of thumb is if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your judgment; if it sounds bogus and shady just politely decline any offers, hang up and scratch them from the list of potentials.
As authors, we do not really make a lot of revenue and there are a lot of wonderful options for getting our work into the world but be wary of ones that ask for a whole bunch of up front costs because in the world of writing, that is not quite how things work. Even the larger publishing companies and the smaller publishing houses will actually pay a predetermined amount to the author, then work on the manuscript so that it is market ready and only take fees when the book starts selling. Sadly, there are people out there who will take advantage of a new and unsuspecting author who has never been informed of the dreaded ‘Vanity Publishing Houses’ and this can end up being very costly and discouraging, especially for a new writer.
The point is, an author should not have to spend so much time worrying about the right company to choose. Check your options, ask questions and choose what fits your lifestyle the best, then get back to enjoying what authors love the most: writing their story.
Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Amy Raines