When you start out, it’s every writer’s dream to have your novel accepted by a publisher.
Then you learn that some publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts, so instead you dream of getting an agent. But really, the dream is the same – you want somebody to say your writing is good enough to publish.
For years, struggling writers have shopped their manuscripts around from one place to another, collecting rejection slips and despair. Then came ebooks.
Now you can write something, convert it, slap on a cover, and put it up on Amazon or any number of other ebook sellers. The trouble is, there are no gate-keepers to ensure the quality of what is put out.
There are no big publicity machines either to let the world know about your book.
So the allure of the publisher remains. It’s very attractive to think you can hand your manuscript over and a whole machine will get into motion to ensure it reaches a high standard in writing, design and, most importantly, the cover.
But you still have to persuade a publisher to accept it.
More and more authors – even long-established ones – are taking back control over their books.
Over the last couple of months my latest novel has been edited, and I am now working on my editor's notes. She marked the manuscript in great detail and wrote a critique document with general suggestions. I have a lot of work to do. But I will decide when it’s ready, and I will publish it myself.
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Yes, you have to pay your own editor to ensure the manuscript is a good standard. Yes, you have to get your own cover – find someone who will produce a really good cover for love or money. Yes, you have to do your own publicity and marketing, but all publishers today expect authors to take an active part in marketing anyway.
But you do get complete control.
You can look on these things you have to do yourself as a burden or an opportunity. Yes, they take time and effort, and sometimes money. But you have total control. I have heard of authors who clashed with their editor over the direction they wanted to take the story. I have heard of authors who hated the cover the publisher provided. I will have none of that. My editor works for me and there is no publishing contract in danger if I refuse to take her advice. My novel will be exactly what I want it to be and my cover will be the design I choose.
Another factor is time.
I understand it can take a year or even two from acceptance of your manuscript to publishing the book. Although I have to sort out my own editing, cover etc, once I decide the book is ready it takes a few minutes to submit it to Kindle or Smashwords. It takes a few hours for them to process it and then it’s on sale. Smashwords can take a day or two to ship it to all the distribution channels but then it’s on sale everywhere.
The final reason is money.
A publisher will pay you a small percentage of every sale, once you have covered your advance. The ebook distributors pay up to 70% on every sale. Ebooks are priced much lower than print books, but because of that you’re liable to sell more, so it definitely works out a better deal.
I would very much like someone to tell me my book is good enough to publish. But, after a lot of research and thought, I’ve decided I should have faith in my own work – or why continue? I will make it the very best I can, I will pay an editor and a cover designer, and then I will publish it myself, promote it myself, and let the readers decide.
Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz