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So you've finally finished that manuscript you've been slaving away at for quite some time. It's as polished as you can get it, been through three or four rounds of brutal edits, and now you're ready to send it off to a publisher. Last week, fellow WWoW author Lacey Wolfe wrote about making sure you do your research before just sending off your "baby." Her post was filled with excellent advice and it made me want to take it a step further. Instead of sending it off to a publisher, why not do it yourself?
Relax. Stop hyperventilating for just a second and let me explain.
I've published my writing now in both the traditional and Indie routes and I have to say I LOVE both of them. They are different experiences and I've learned a great deal over the last year. I was lucky enough to send my very first erotic romance to a well-established publisher in the market. They encouraged the authors to interact with and learn from each other. As a "newbie" I really appreciated that sort of guidance. It was because of these fabulous authors, that I decided to take what they taught me and venture out on my own a bit by self-publishing my first book of poetry.
One thing I learned a long time ago and a bit of advice that still holds true today is NEVER, EVER pay to have your book published. This does not mean not to pay to have someone design your cover art, or do professional editing. What it does mean is that you shouldn't have to give a "publisher" money up front in order for them to publish your book in print or ebook form. If you do sign a contract with these vanity presses as they are called, you could be in for a world of hurt. Not only have you paid them to put out your book, but you may see very little royalties from them at all. To top it off, some of the more unscrupulous types have you under contract for your future endeavors as well.
Don't be so hell bent on getting your book published that you fall for this kind of trap. There are so many FREE alternatives out there. For me, I started out with Smashwords. This is an excellent way for you to get your ebook out to multiple markets at the same time. They distribute to Apple, Sony, Barnes and Noble, Amazon (although they've had some formatting issues that are still being worked out), libraries and various other outlets.
Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, put together a complete guide to formatting your manuscript so that it will be able to go through their system. The Smashwords Style Guide is a concise and straight forward manual. You can't publish to the site without following the precise guidelines, so go ahead and download your free copy today. It's even available on Amazon. The guide was recently updated in June 2012, so make sure you get the latest version. I got mine from Smashwords.
As I mentioned previously, Smashwords and Amazon were having some issues with their systems not being compatible or something odd. So instead of waiting for them to work that out, I chose to opt out of Smashwords sending my book to Amazon so that I could upload my book there myself. Amazon requires the file to be in PDF format to upload to their site and they have a few other rules you'll want to follow. Here's the GUIDE for them...and yes it's free too. If you choose, you can opt into the KDP program (Kindle Direct Publishing Program) where you agree to keep your book exclusively on Amazon for at least 90 days. In exchange, you can offer your book for free at specific intervals. This could be a good marketing tool for you if you choose to do it.
I liked that idea, but didn't want to keep my book just with Amazon. If you go with Smashwords as well, you can create coupon codes to be able to offer your book at a discounted price or even for free at different times. This option has worked great for me and for many others. Some of my other author friends have enjoyed the KDP program with Amazon. The choice is yours. Pick the program that fits YOU and your writing the best and run with it!
So now that you've got the ebook publishing under your belt, how about print? Well, Smashwords doesn't offer that service and Amazon KDP program is for the ebooks, so where do you go? Amazon to the rescue here! They have an affiliate called Createspace. Here you can upload your book, pick the size of the paperback you wish to put out, choose your cover from their prefabricated covers, or upload your own. Once you have things the way you want them, you can order a proof to be sent to you for final approval. This is the only cost to you at this point. For my poetry book it was less than three bucks.
Once you approve that, within a few days (usually less than 24 hours), your book will be available for purchase through Createspace and Amazon. That distribution is free. If you wish to have your book sent to some other groups such as libraries and universities, you can opt into that distribution program for less than $30. For me, this has already been paid for ten times over through the sales of the print version of my book.
So after you've done all your research and chosen a publisher, go ahead and submit your manuscript to them for consideration. While you wait for their answer, read up on how to publish through Smashwords and Amazon. Finish up that next manuscript and publish it yourself. You too can reap the benefits of working with a traditional publisher and going the Indie route. Trust me. You'll be glad you did!
Here's another article for your consideration when doing research on Indie publishing. Five Reasons to Publish Your Ebooks On Smashwords puts it out there in black and white why you should give Smashwords a try.
Please visit the other Writer's Words of Wisdom Authors participating this week.