I recently made the decision not to submit my manuscript to a publishing house and instead I chose to publish it myself. Why would I do such a thing you may ask? It's simple really - I'm new to this whole publishing business and quite frankly the requirements from some of these publishing firms intimidated me.
For example - what credentials do I have, or what qualifies me to write, were two of the questions I frequently ran into when I first looked into submitting my manuscript. Credentials? I have a high school diploma - does that count? What qualifies me? Well, since it was a fictional book I guess it would have been - my imagination? Silly questions really. I like to write shouldn't that be enough? Then of course, there was the frequent, "We don't accept unsolicited manuscripts" line. Well, that is disappointing. But wait! There might be a chance if you have an agent. Okay, so I need an agent and what do I find when I look for agents? "We don't accept unsolicited manuscripts". What the heck! What's a writer to do?
Then of course, there are those horrible book proposals. Ugh! Just the thought of having to go through all 41 chapters of my book to give a synopsis of each chapter was enough to make me give up writing altogether! However, I did not give up writing instead I chose to self-publish. Big mistake? You tell me.
My book was released in December of 2007. Just in time for Christmas. To date, I've sold about 20 copies on the internet and in bookstores. Not a lot I know, but to me it's amazing considering that I'm completely unknown. I've done most of the marketing for my book, which has gone well and will in the near future include a guest appearance on a national television show. The cover was done free of charge, by a wonderful photographer I know and the design was done by my daughter who is a freelance illustrator/graphic artist. So I saved on those costs, but I have one major problem. It's a good problem really, but I'm not sure what to do next. I need a distributor. Something my self-publisher does not do. Oh, they put it up on all the right sites (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.), but it's the bookstores I need to get into. In my city, I have my book in two bookstores on opposite ends of town and they keep selling out so fast that they are starting to ask me to find a distributor. So I looked into that and I just don't have that kind of money.
So now I'm back to where I started, wishing I had submitted my manuscript to a publisher and let them take care of all this other business. Assuming of course that they would have even liked my book. I've got a writer friend who signed a contract with a publishing firm to have her book published and everything was a go, until they changed their minds. They won't publish it and she is forbidden by her contract to submit it anywhere else. That's tough to handle, especially when you put so much of yourself into writing something you really believe in.
I realize that today a lot of authors have to peddle their books if they want them to sell and I realize that there are quite a few bad writers out there, who believe they will be the next J.K. Rowlings. But why does it have to be so difficult? Why don't publishers have a little writing test on their websites that when filled out appropriately, would be able to tell if the submitting writer is any good? Surely, there's a technical genius out there somewhere who could come up with some kind of program like that - isn't there?
I’ve been told that my book, with its ISBN number and bar code, sitting on bookshelves and available for sale online, is not really published because it didn’t go through a proper publisher. I guess if it feels like a book and looks like a book – it really isn’t a book unless it has the approval of the almighty publishing industry. After all, there are standards that must be upheld. So, I guess, in the future I will have no choice but to submit my manuscripts to a publisher. The question is – will it be worth it? I guess I’ll have to wait to find out.
©2008 Laura Davis