Then join us. Behind the scenes at a Big 5 publisher feature length film. Finally, we have a complete course on how to get your book published — and not just published, period, but published well , published successfully. Do consider joining us if you need that further help. The first question is whether or not you want to pursue traditional publication. Trad publication will suit you, if:. If that sounds like you, then traditional publishing should certainly be your goal.
The next question is whether you need an agent. You basically have to have an agent, if:. In all those cases, you can forget about getting a literary agent and just proceed to option 2, which is traditional publication, but without a literary agent. Obviously, the publishers you choose will need to be carefully chosen. Otherwise, the basic approach is the same.
You locate your targets. You send a query letter. You include enough sample material that the publisher can make up their mind. The big difference: agents are slow, with response times often around weeks. But publishers are way slower: you need to allow months to get a proper response. Yes, you can trawl through the membership pages of the American Association of Publishers or in the UK the Publishers Association … but those guys have a lot of members, the vast majority of whom will be irrelevant to your needs.
So really the best way to find a publisher for your book is to find other titles in your niche. So if your book is about motor maintenance, look at the other engine-related books on your shelves. How to find who publishes a book is simple — just look inside the front cover. That page with all the tiny, boring print about copyright and that kind of thing will also tell you who the publisher is. You need to identify both the publisher you want and, where relevant, the imprint in order to wriggle through to the right desk in the right office.
Make a list of those publishers — then approach them direct. Assuming you definitely want traditional publication and again, see Option 1 for more on this , you should only really avoid using a literary agent, if:. For those reasons, direct submissions to publishers make the most sense. If you have a mailing list or other platform — for example, you have a popular blog on rose growing, and your book is all about growing roses — then self-publishing should be very simple and immediately lucrative. If you are looking to sell a novel, then you basically have to have written the book and edited it until it sparkles.
But that sounds like a hell of a lot of work for a project that might never sell, right? Well, luckily for you, that option certainly exists. It exists only for non-fiction, and not even for all types of non-fiction, but yes: you can offer literary agents a book proposal in place of an entire book.
That book proposal might in total amount to only 10, words, and should include:. If your work is mainstream and could provide a ton of sales, then you will want to navigate via a literary agent. If not, you can go direct to publishers. Nice, right?
Although the Big 5 publishers dominate the market in sheer volume of sales, they do have one not-so-little weakness. That is that their sheer size entails a prodigious cost base, and therefore an inability to handle small but important or interesting work. For that reason, we are living in a golden age of tiny, but very successful micro-publishers. You can find a useful list of such presses here. Though if you have one, your agent should make the approach, not you.
I know several talented authors with real passion projects. Amazon charges you nothing to stock your book.
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It has easy tools to create your ebook and your print book. Its royalties are brilliant. You can find everything you need right here, in our Ultimate Guide to Self-Publishing. Those people never succeed. To win at self-pub, you have to seek success. You have to want it. It does take some upfront spending, without any guarantee of return. In truth, the game is usually slower and more incremental than that. In the old days, if you wanted to be a publisher, you needed to be able to print books, arrange warehousing and logistics, and you needed a big corporate sales team to persuade retailers to buy the books.
In short, things were complicated, and publishers ended up combining into ever larger units in order to compete. But then a new breed of publishers came up with a radical thought. Who needed bookshops any more? E-books and audio books dominate the market. They focused purely on that online sales channel selling print as well as e-books, but only via online routes. You need to write the kind of books that are right for a digital-first approach. In fiction, that means you are writing series-led genre.
Or national newspaper reviews, because almost certainly ditto. And any advance you get will be very small but the royalties you can expect will be correspondingly generous.
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And bear in mind, the scale of success here can be huge. Angela Marsons was used to getting knocked back by trad publishers … but digital-first Bookouture turned her into a million-selling sales sensation. The name of that publishing arm is, imaginatively, Amazon Publishing , or just APub.
It is an odd one, though. So an Amazon author is sold by … just Amazon. More than 35 APub authors have hit 1,, in sales, and that number is expanding all the time. Mostly it looks for existing authors who could fit its template, and reaches out to them. Alternatively, literary agents can call direct. Yes, they will produce a book, and it might even look OK. But their marketing promises are meaningless. They will not — not meaningfully — sell your book.
Selling books is hardly necessary. Run, run, run from these awful humans. If you want a longer discussion of these appalling people and all the reasons why vanity publishing is terrible, please just read this short guide. But the big difference is one of honesty. Lulu is one example of this kind of company, but there are plenty of others. But if the basic operation of creating a book comes garnished with flaky and unrealistic promises about marketing, some horrible high-pressure sales tactics, and topped off with a crazy price, then what you have is a vanity publisher.
This option will be right for you if you just want a nicely produced book.
My sister got those photos printed up into a nice-looking photo book of the day. Your work is worth it. And, well, OK. Some authors have done that, and done that successfully — James Oswald , for example. There are plenty of other examples. Really, you probably need to double or treble those numbers to get an agent properly interested. But once your indie career is hitting those heights, what really does trad publishing offer you? And yes, I know some indie authors who make their money via self-publishing, but who dabble with a bit of traditional publishing on the side, really just to explore new things and to prove they have what it takes there too.
But in general, I think if you self-publish, you should do so with the intention of self-publishing over the long term. A few years ago, a friend of mine, John Mitchinson, had a brainwave. You could build a whole community around each book project. In a way, the whole thing could be like a modern reinvention of the eighteenth-century model in which people subscribed to a particular book project prior to publication. That was the idea. Unbound was the result — a Kickstarter for books in effect. And yes: you can crowdfund your book on Kickstarter too.
The idea has been prodigiously successful, and the company is currently raising funds for a major expansion into the US. Where books successfully meet their pledge target, the company publishes the books and arranges distribution into bookstores, as well as foreign rights sales and the rest. But fiction can also work on the site, again especially when that fiction is distinctive and a bit too quirky for ordinary Big 5 style publication.
Of the social-as-storytelling platforms, by far the best known and most elaborate is Wattpad , with some 70 million users who are there for the purpose of storytelling rather than, say, watching fake news, trolling each other, or sharing gifs.
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For those type of writers, social publishing can be a brilliant first route. When that digital-first publication started to make waves, James sold the rights to Random House, that propelled the book and its author to mega-stardom. In effect, that one trilogy moved from social publication, to digital first publication, to Big 5 publication with literary agent attached. Yes, you can practice your craft and build an audience on Wattpad, but you still have to make the leap from that to a more formal publication channel.
I said there were a load of different routes to publication — and by now you probably believe me. But in the end, there are two broad variants:. Both routes are great. Both options will appeal to different authors — or like me the same author at different times and with different projects. The whole thing is easy-peasy.
All except the very first bit — writing a great book. That difficulty is what makes this craft of ours so frustrating — and so rewarding. Harry Bingham has been a professional author for twenty years and more. More about us. Agent submission builder Get an agent in one hour. Indie marketing masterclass A self-publishing essential. How to write a novel Your free, expert tutorials. Join the list, get your gifts. Write a succinct synopsis, the easy way Write a professional query letter, the easy way Based on over twelve years of working with agents.
Quick Simple Easy. If you want more info, you can get it here. Build a strong underlying story structure Ensure your characters evolve with the plot Make the hardest part of writing that little bit easier. We will now review your request and get in touch with you.
Write a perfect query letter and a brilliant synopsis. In just one hour. Redraft your manuscript like a pro, with this easy guide. How to get a book published All the major options reviewed, with pros and cons for each. The secret to getting an agent. Free submission pack template. They are also there to sell your book, which they do by: Working on the manuscript editorially.
More on types of editing. Designing cover art and preparing the book for production. Do you know any economic-based hyphotesis SF? Thanks very much! A lot of sci-fi stories incorporate economics to some degree, since many dystopias require an explanation for a poor underclass and a rich ruling class.
As you say, economics is one of the shakiest sciences around, which makes it difficult to imagine a whole new version of it. Your idea has the potential to really fill a niche, so good luck with it!
Thanks for the tip, I am not sure what category my new story falls under, sci fi or fantasy, but I am less worried about labels than creating a fantastic and believable world. I want to write about an oppressed alien race that needs humans to help free them from their tyrant alien overlords. Parts of what I want to do feel like fantasy, others like sci fi, I am curious, what do you think? Can I successfully incorporate both into one story?
Sci-fi tends to be specific and unique, built around core ideas that define the world, whereas fantasy is more general, offering up a set of established rules that are immediately familiar and comprehensible to the reader. Neither is better than the other, but they tend to do different things, and work towards commenting on our own world from different directions, so combining them can often lead to them working against each other. Do you want to make broader, more timeless comments about the human condition, or focus on specific aspects or developments? Fantasy lends itself better to the former, sci-fi to the latter.
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Thank you for the article. Loved that book. Kind regards. Not at all! How did that misconception even arise? Thanks for your thoughts. They fight with swords, kill monsters, and even battle an evil, black-cloaked wizard who shoots lightning. Sci-fi, or speculative, fiction tends to be more about how and why things happen. As Star Wars grows as a franchise, it may hew closer to sci-fi, though it usually does so to its detriment. A softer ending is OK, especially if there is a sequel to the story — I have two trilogies like this — each part is complete in itself.
The reader must believe in the main character — and if the reader can identify with the main character, that helps! I now have 26 books published as electronic downloads, and seven of the best of them are now paperbacks. To say I got one hell of a kick writing it is true, I wanted to BE that person! Hope this helps someone — David.
Thank you very much for this inforation. I need a little help and aid. Thank you very much. As for the sci-fi that was the first to really influence me, I believe it was Ray Bradburyks Fahrenheit which I watched as a boy. I saw this distopic future world where information was being controlled by the state through the outlawing and destruction of all books. I think that this one piece of sci-fi influenced me in that I have always liked stories with a distopic theme.
I find it interesting that all these years later we can see signs of governments trying to do exactly what Ray Bradbury wrote about in that story… controlling the information. So here I am in my early 50s, having only watched my sci-fi on movie screens and television, and I find I have a story I want to tell rattling around in my brain. It was while googling information on how to go about writing that story that I came across this article.
I know it was originally written several years ago, but I found it very interesting and informative. Thank you. I suppose it is Sci-Fi. Your email address will not be published. Don't subscribe All Replies to my comments Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting. Click here to get started. Related content and sponsored links from across the web. Comments Great post. Hi Debbie, Thanks very much for the kind words. Best wishes, Rob. SF mixed with fantasy would be better called: Techno-Fantasy.
Best, Rob. Thanks for this thoughtful roundup! And your examples are excellent. Thank you, Robert, and thanks Standoutbooks. Hi Jen, Thanks a lot. Hi Becky, Wow, thanks very much. Hi Sasmito, Thanks very much! Hi Ratish, Thanks for your thoughts. Hi Robert Thank you for the article. Kind regards, David. Hi David, Thanks very much for your comments — some great insight there that will be useful to many. Hi David, Thanks for sharing the benefit of your experience — a great tip.