I'm presenting at the Mendocino Coast Writer's Conference this Saturday on the Pathways to Publishing Panel. It's got me thinking about all the ways there are to get published now days and how lucky we are to not be dependent on publishing companies anymore.
Not that publishing companies are bad! Hell, I am one. But if you don't want to go the route of finding a publisher, you now have many options. In fact, there are FIVE options to get your work out where other people can read it.
Option One - The Traditional Route. This is the one where you find an agent and then the two of you hunt for a publisher, preferably a BIG PUBLISHER, who can give you a BIG ADVANCE and market the book enough that it sells. This is the pot of gold for an author. We all dream of making a deal with Random House or Hatchet and selling thousands of copies of our novel. But competition is fierce and the odds of you actually landing that book deal are slim, especially now days with publishing companies being forced to make budget cuts.
Happily, there are other options.
Option Two- The Micro Publishing Route. This is where you'll find publishing companies like Medusa's Muse. We typically don't work with agents, nor can we afford much of an advance, if at all. But we do offer lots of editorial support and marketing help, as well as making you feel more like you're part of a team than a product. Your book is published by a legitimate publisher, but the odds of selling thousands of copies are slim. No one gets rich in the micro publishing route, and your book may never make the splash you'd like simply because a micro publisher's marketing budget is as micro as the company.
Option Three- The Subsidized Publishing Route. If you'd like to bypass hunting for a publisher but would still like a chance of selling your book, then this is the route for you. This is where you'll find online publishing companies like XLibros and IUniverse. Subsidy publishing has changed for the better over the last decade and a lot of the stigma has disappeared. Working with a subsidy publisher is quick and easy. They'll design and edit your book, for a fee of course. It isn't cheap going this route, and many people have been unhappy with the final result. Plus, you don't own the ISBN, the subsidy publisher does, so that means you don't actually own the book. If that bothers you, then perhaps you should follow option four.
Option Four- The Self Publishing Route. You do it all if you self-publish (so you'll probably want to buy my book, What You Need to Know to Be a Pro). You write it, hire people yourself to edit and design it, send it to a printer, market the book, and sell copies, often from the back of your own car. You will be an author and a business owner, so you also get to do the bookkeeping and track inventory. You'll need a block of ISBN's and a resale license. But all that work allows you to control everything about your book. It's yours, and no one, not an agent or a publishing executive, can tell you what to do. All the profits are yours too. But will it make up for the hours of labor you'll need to put into self-publishing?
Option Five- The Electronic Publishing Route. This is the age of the Internet, so use it. Set up a blog and a website to publish your writing on the net. Post a chapter at a time to serialize your book and start networking with other writers and people who may be interested in your topic to get readers. You won't make any money this way, but you build a following over time which can eventually lead to money in the future, especially if one of those agents we mentioned in Option One likes your work.
I suppose there is an Option Six as well. You can do nothing at all.