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I Have My Manuscript, Now What? A Look at the World of Publishing

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/20/2006 | Publishing
Youve spent endless nights hammering away at your book. Youve rewritten it, youve edited it, and you had it professionally proofed. Your baby is finally done and youre ready to send your precious manuscript off to a publisher, thinking that writing it was the hardest part. Wrong!

Actually, getting your blood, sweat and tears published may be the hardest part of the whole process. Youll need to determine if a publisher will be required, or if youd rather self-publish your book. There are pros and cons to both sides, some of which are discussed below.

To work with a publisher, youll need to send out query letters and/or a book proposal. This is a letter or a few pages briefly describing your text, why it is unique, characteristics of your target market and how you can help market the book. Most publishers dont accept unsolicited manuscripts, so youll need to convince them to read yours. If they request that you forward your entire manuscript, you have one foot in the door. Be prepared to send more than one query and dont expect a response next week.

There are writer's guides that serve as excellent resources to find publishers who specialize in your particular genre. These guides list the percentage of new authors published as well as the percentage of sales they pay. You may find pay rates ranging from 5-10% of sales. Some pay on wholesale sales and others on the retail amount. Do the math. Perhaps your book will retail for 14.95 and the publisher will pay 6% on retail. This means you will earn 90 cents per book sold. Of course dont forget that the publisher is doing all the printing, distributing, and marketing of your text.

Another route you may want to consider is self-publishing. You will be responsible for all the printing, distributing and marketing costs involved, but you will also get to retain all the profits. There are book printing companies as well as companies that specialize in assisting the self-publisher through every step along the way.

Finally, theres age old debate about which method is better; using a publishing company or self publishing your own book. You know your situation and you know what will work best for you. Youll want to consider how much time or money you have to invest in the project. That should give you an idea which route to take. Using a publisher takes less time on your part, but youll forfeit some of the royalties by using this method. If you self publish, youll have to pay "up front" and do the initial work to get the ball rolling on sales of your book.

Either way, publishing is your call. With a little persistance and hard work you CAN get your book to Market. So, go for it!!