Ways to Get Published
Whenever we do live events, I get asked the same question over and over again. People ask, “How much do you charge to publish a book?”
Now, the fact that I hear this question so much tells me that most people—even the ones who hope to get published—don’t know a whole lot about how publishing actually works. So today, I’m going to try to cover that in only around a minute. Hope I can talk fast!
The simple answer is: We don’t charge anything.
No legitimate, traditional press (big or small) charges authors any kind of fee, so if your so-called “publisher” is asking you for money, you need to know that you are NOT being published; you are working with a vanity or subsidy press (a service that helps people get published for a fee), which means you are, in fact, self-publishing.
What’s the difference? Here’s the quick and dirty summary:
In today’s publishing world, there are three main ways to get your book out into the market: (1) traditional large publishers (often called the Big Five); (2) small presses (also called “independent publishers”); and (3) self-publishing (which is often incorrectly referred to as “independent” publishing).
Over the past few decades, the Big Five have been merging and reorganizing and trying to make money in a world where fewer and fewer people care about books. Getting them to notice you—if you’re not already an international brand name like Stephen King or Jodi Picoult—is almost impossible unless you know someone or are VERY lucky.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is self-publishing.
Back in the olden days, self-publishing was for intellectual renegades who were willing to risk their money and even their lives to get their writing out into the world. When people like Ben Franklin and Thomas Paine were self-publishing their work, the process was hard to do and very expensive. That kept people who really had nothing worthwhile to say out of the game. But nowadays? For literally NO money up front and just a few minutes on Amazon, you can upload your “book” and declare yourself a published “author.” And because anyone can publish anything, there are few, if any, standards. Before anybody freaks out, please note: This is a general overview. I’m NOT bashing self-publishing or vanity or subsidy presses–that is, services that help writers bring their books to print for a fee. There are some excellent subsidy presses in the world, and there are, of course, good self-published books (or so I’ve heard). This is just intended to be a rule of thumb.
Finally, there’s the middle ground: small presses like ours here at Blydyn Square Books. I may be biased, since I work for a small press, but I think they’re the way to go for most new writers. Small presses play the role that self-publishing used to play back in Ben Franklin’s day. We take chances on new authors who would probably be ignored by the Big Five, but we also make sure bad books don’t make it into print. The downside is that small presses don’t publish a lot of books, so we have to be very selective. But don’t despair: There are hundreds, if not thousands, of small presses out there to choose from. You just need to have patience and take the time to do some research and find the one that’s right for you and your book.
I hope that answers your question. If you have any others, send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org. See you next time!