Once you completed your NaNoWriMo project, it’s time to start thinking about what to do with the manuscript you just finished.
Of course, the first thing you have to do is revise it (right?). And keep on revising it until it’s a polished gem. Once those revisions are complete, it becomes decision time: what happens now? There are several possibilities here.
- File it and forget it.
- Try for an agent and/or a traditional publisher.
- Sign up with a service company.
- Self-publish it.
Let’s explore each of these options:
File it and forget it
What? After all that hard work and sweat during an entire month? You have to believe in yourself! You have to believe your manuscript is excellent and that someone (even lots of someones) wants to read it. I recommend you don’t stick it in your sock drawer and forget about it. Try one of the other choices listed. You can have a successfully published book!
Try for an agent and/or a traditional publisher
This is a popular option, and many writers try this as their first choice. This route can take a long time, possibly years. Some of the big publishers now accept submissions without an agent. And that simplifies matters if the publisher is a match for your manuscript. Indie publishers offer a slightly different path.
Most of these smaller publishers don’t rely on agents, so it’s easier to get in touch with them. Generally, the smaller indie publishers are more open to new authors and have much shorter intervals. The significant advantage of this option is that the publisher does all the work and incurs all the expenses involved with producing the book.
Sign up with a service company
These service companies seem to be a growth industry. They’re popping up all over the landscape, and they have some controversy surrounding them. Their basic method of operation is you pay them to produce and publish the book. That is the exact opposite of the previous option. The cost to the author isn’t pin money either. It’s thousands of dollars.
Granted for that money, the service company does a lot of work. It comes up with a cover, edits the manuscript, formats the book, and attends to all the other details involved in the publishing process.
My concern about the service companies is this: vanity presses do the same thing. So why are service companies different from vanity press publishers? I haven’t heard a satisfactory answer to this question, and until I do, I won’t be a service company fan. I guess if you have the money to spend on this option, it’s something to consider, although I’m more than a bit suspicious of the whole concept of services companies.
Before you decide to use a service company, make sure you read all the fine print on all the web pages and especially on any contracts. If you have a question, don’t sign until they answer it to your satisfaction. Don’t accept any fancy double-talk.
This option is increasingly popular with authors, both newbies and established.
An inexperienced author who considers self-publishing her book will often take to the internet to research the process. That’s when problems set in.
There is a lot of great information available on the web. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of misinformation and other material that is simply wrong. The issue for the newbie author is figuring out which information is accurate and which isn’t.
An example of wrong information is the advice to take your unrevised and unedited manuscript and upload it to Kindle. This lousy advice produces the kind of book that gives self-publishing a bad reputation. It also indicates a complete lack of understanding of what self-publishing is all about. In a nutshell, self-publishing means that the author is the publisher and, as such, must do all the work a publisher would do if the author sold the book to the publisher.
Here is a shortlist of the work involved in self-publishing the book: getting a unique cover, having the manuscript edited professionally, designing the layout, and formatting the text. This last item is especially important in the case of eBooks because what you see on your computer screen is most likely not eBook compliant. eBooks must be formatted in accordance with the Epub3 Standard, and word processor default settings assume you will print the material.
Hence, these settings aren’t compliant with the Epub3 Standard.
Another nasty situation that can arise is with the scam artists that cruise the internet searching for new and/or inexperienced authors. The scammers will make attractive offers that do nothing except drain your wallet.
One solution to this information conundrum is to get a mentor: an experienced self-published author who can offer advice on several issues that will pop up during the publishing process along with the decisions that have to be made. Another solution is to ignore most of the internet information and read a good book on the subject.
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For NaNoWriMo (and other first-time authors), my Self-publishing Starter Kit offers a way to gain an understanding of what self-publishing entails rapidly. The Starter Kit is a bundle of four videos. The videos cover an overview of self-publishing, a first step in marketing the book, ebook formatting, and scams an author can run into. Learn more about the Self-publishing Starter Kit here.