Writing a book can take a long time, whether you’re writing a children’s picture book, a cookery book, a self-help bible or a fantasy novel. It’s going to take time. From imagining and researching the characters, describing their world to thinking of plot twists and cliff hangers. But what happens when you finally put down the pen? Write the final sentence? Do you close your laptop and start on a new one? Forget all about it? Or do you dare to dream, and send off manuscripts to publishing houses?
Fortunately, I’ve got the help of a published author to explain the processes which occur all the way from imagining up the characters to getting your book on the shelves. Ricki Joyner, first-time published author and self-illustrator, has joined me today to share the secrets on what really happens when trying to get a book published.
He states that it all starts with an idea, and that yes, it will be hard to find a completely original idea that hasn’t been done before, e.g dinosaurs, zombies, romance. However, the important part is putting your own spin or twist on it. Having the book actually written first should help a lot.
The first step is, as you can imagine, simply send off manuscripts of your book to as many different publishing houses as possible, eventually one should get back to you, regardless of the size of the publishers, it is a start. Not everybody is going to get signed up to Penguin or HarperCollins publishings right away, it takes time, and as a newly established author, you begin at the bottom.
“As a newly established author, you begin at the bottom.”
Once a publishing house has given you a positive response, ideally, they should talk you through pretty much everything. They will proof-read your manuscript, change any grammar or spelling mistakes and will make suggestions on things they think could be added in / moved around etc. to make the story flow better. You can of course say no to these changes, they are simply suggestions, and it is your book after all.
They will also guide you through designs for the front cover and blurb – that is if you are not planning on designing yourself (in which case, you simply send them your designs and they will incorporate it as well as possible). Once again, during these stages you have the right to say no to any designs or ideas you do not like or do not think will suit your book.
If using an actual publishing house, be prepared as the whole process will take around a year from sending off the manuscript to receiving an actual copy in your hands. This is why Ricki believes it is best to have a finished manuscript first as he states you will be given a date and time frame in which to complete it by, which can result in it being rushed and resulting in a lower quality book than you had first hoped.
By not having a finished manuscript, you will be given a time-frame in which to complete it in, this can result in a rushed and lower quality book.
Once the design and blurb ideas have been confirmed, next comes the advertising stage. The publishers should get in touch with ideas they have for describing your book and advertising it on places such as Amazon etc. During this stage they will also confirm the layout of any extras within your book – for example if you have any graphs, drawings or tables within your manuscript – where you would like to be places and their design.
Once this stage has been completed, it is sent back one last time for you to proof-read and fill out any required forms, once the final signature has been signed, finally it means you are getting your book.
Publishers will often send you a few copies of your book (usually up to 10) for you to keep and hand out to family and friends (this is excellent advertising for you!)
A few weeks after receiving your first-edition, your book will be ready and on the shelves! (or digital shelves in the case of Amazon etc.)
Q and A with the author:
We’ve been asked many questions regarding publishing a book,
BeardedIgor Blogs @ beardedigor.wordpress.com – How do you get over the mental hurdle of getting it published?
I got over it the same way I got through exams, I made sure to find the time to do it. If you really want to do it, then just go for it. But be prepared for the year long wait and expect people to say no! Just look at JK Rowling and how many publishers turned her down!
JennasWorldView @ jennasworldview.com – Where do I start?
Just send your manuscripts to as many publishing houses as possible, in the end, one should get back to you!
Ellen Leslie @ ellescrit.wordpress.com – The whole process would be great. How do you even get started?
Hopefully the above will give you an insight into what happens during the process. To get started, just write, whatever comes into your mind.
WanderingPram @ wanderingpram.wordpress.com – Is it best to have a completed manuscript or is an outline and sample enough? “
As stated above, it really does help to have a completed manuscript as the publishers will give you a time-frame for it to be completed, which of course, can result in a rushed and lower quality manuscript.
BeccaKaminski @ beccak6.wordpress.com – Your whole process of going about it, what’d you do?
Well, again, as stated above, just find an idea, and write. Much easier said than done, I know, But just keep at it, and send and send and send again to all the different publishers.
Ash @thisdreamsalive.wordpress.com – Do you need an agent?
No! Well not exactly. To just publish a book, you do not need an agent, however if you really want to get in with the big publishers or you want your book to be sold in Waterstones, than you will require an agent.
Pia.majumdar – how do you publish a book without spending much?
It tends to be much cheaper to publish a book through a publishing house, as they tend to guide you through everything, proof-read, design and do all of the legal bits. However self-publishing will tend to be generally an e-book and can be a lot more difficult and expensive so you will have to do all of the printing, get lawyers etc if needed. Both ways you will end up with a published book, but self-publishing tends to cost a lot more.
Hopefully this brief insight into how a book gets published and the secrets behind the whole process has given you even a little bit of information or motivation into getting your own ideas published.
You can find Ricki here or on twitter @Rjoyner248.
His book Dino Evolve: It Begins can be bought from: