Publishing often feels like a mystery. There are so many details that go into getting a book published, and the process can be very, very slow. Publishers can also be intimidating, especially if it is your first experience, or if you don’t know what you’re getting into.
However, over the years, a few secrets have slipped out. Whether these are things your publisher won’t tell you, or things that you will just never know before trying to get published, there are a few unknown secrets about publishing that everyone should know about the publishing process (and yes, I made a list about it!) Here are the top ten things that no one tells you about publishing.
1. You’ve Got Three Months
Your book has three months to sell. Yep that’s it. You have three months to show your publisher, bookstores, and other marketers that your book will bring in revenue. If that doesn’t happen, be prepared to see your book in the nearest Half Price Books, or, even worse, just thrown out. While this may seem harsh, and is definitely just an average rule, (this won’t always happen…but ya know the whole bell curve ain’t necessarily in your favor) you should really only put effort into publishing your book if you are confident. Confidence doesn’t always create sales, but knowing that your book will sell is crucial.
2. Marketing is all on YOU
Up until a few years ago, publishers did do a little bit marketing for the books they published. However, in today’s world, you’ve got to do it yourself. A publisher’s job is strictly to publish and you’ve got to get the word out yourself. While this is still a bit easier with a traditional publisher versus self publishing, marketing can be difficult, and letting others know about your book is a big challenge. I recommend thinking far into the future about your promotion plan, and having one before you even go to a publisher. Getting a book published is great, but if no one knows about it, it might as well still be in manuscript form and sitting on your living room desk.
3. Publishing is NOT a Get Rich Quick Scheme
Many people who have never published before think, “oh it’ll be fine, I will just write a book, publish it, and bring in tons of cash.” Think again. Writing a manuscript takes time. Revising that manuscript takes even more time. Then, you need to find an excellent editor and revise again. After that, you get to go through the ultimate turtle paced publishing process, and even then, you may not get published. Once you do get published, you also cannot expect any funds right away. Even if your book miraculously does turn into a bestseller, your advance money is usually all you will see. That also takes time, sales, revenue, and overall, months and months of waiting. Yes, writing is for the patient, the determined, the aspiring, but not for those looking to make a quick fortune.
4. No, You Probably Won’t See Your Book In Foreign Countries
Most books published in the United States do not get published globally. Unless you are fortunate enough to acquire a publisher that speaks several languages and is more interest in making you an international prodigy, your book will stay on U.S. shelves for awhile. If your ultimate goal is to sell books worldwide, I suggest you really look into who your publisher is, what you’re writing, and if it can be useful to your perspective audience.
5. Your Publisher Probably Won’t Be As Scary As You Think
Among the writing community, especially those who haven’t gone to a traditional publisher before, publishers are made out to be horrendous humans that are only interested in crushing your dreams, telling you you’re worthless, and that you have no hope of ever getting a book published. While they may reject you, give you professional feedback, and tell you to rewrite, they are not going to yell, scream, or throw a fit if your manuscript sucks. Think about it, you approach them, and they have to decide if they want to take the time to read your manuscript and talk to you. It’s THEIR choice to be talking with you, so don’t worry about bothering them. Also, just to overwrite the old stereotype and create a new one, most publishers in the U.S. are young women that just really like to read.
6. Don’t Rely on a Series
It is a known fact that if you are multi-book author, or plan to create a series, sequel, or second book, you may have a better chance of getting published. While this is true because publishers do want to see that you will bring them future sales, they also need to see promise in your first manuscript. If they don’t like it, don’t think it will bring in revenue, or see it as poor writing, they will reject you just as easily as if you had planned on being a one hit wonder. Same goes if they do actually publish your first manuscript. If it doesn’t sell or bring them any revenue, they probably won’t want to see your second manuscript, or publish another one of your books. Make sure your first manuscript is good, and that it sells.
7. Big Publishing Houses Aren’t Always the Best
When people think publishing, they think Harper Collins, or Penguin, or at least some place in New York that is “official.” While some people may put you down for going with a smaller publishing company, don’t sweat it. You can have just as much or just as little success no matter where you try to publish your book, and you’ll want to go to a publisher that you are comfortable with, and that allows you to achieve what you want. Know what you want and stand up for it.
8. Even Though You Aren’t Somebody, Act Like It
Let’s face it. No one knows you, not many people know of your book, and the publisher you are about to approach definitely falls into both of those categories. Is that a bit intimidating? Yes of course. But the fastest way to break a stereotype about yourself is to act nothing like the person people assume you to be. A stereotypical new author that has never been published and that isn’t well known is not expected to have a ton of confidence or to be a bold personality that knows what he or she wants. Be exactly what you aren’t expected to be. Go in displaying confidence, speak boldly, talk informatively, and act like you are someone.
9. Do NOT Get Hung Up On the Numbers
Your statistical chances at getting published suck. They just plain suck. Statistics also don’t take into account who are you are, what your writing skill is, what publisher you’re going to, if you’ve been referred or not, how good your literary agent is, or if you just wrote the world’s next bestseller. Don’t take numbered statistics all that seriously because they will never be in your favor.
10. Take Small Things as Vital Steps Toward Success
Just because Barnes and Noble didn’t take your book or your dream publisher didn’t accept you does not mean you failed. Yes, you got rejected, but you got feedback. Also, you will find that the largest, most well-known companies may not take your book, but smaller bookings and companies will. Take these opportunities because they are opportunities, and learn from them. They can help you get better at the whole publishing process, help you market and promote, and improve your chances next time around.
***That’s it! I hope you guys found this post helpful and insightful. Feel free to share some of your own advice in the comments, as I always love to hear from you guys and to get extra perspectives. Thanks so much for reading!***