February 7, 2013

After the Writing

Once a manuscript is completed—written, revised, tested on first readers, & polished—a writer interested in publication must begin navigating a somewhat complicated series of options. I made the mistake of delving into these options prior to finishing my manuscript, and I would advise others to avoid focusing on these questions before having a mostly completed product (yes, once finished, that's what a manuscript becomes), as otherwise, these questions may seem like an ever-widening spiral of decisions clamoring to be made, which can ultimately become overwhelming, distracting, or even discouraging.

That being said, moving toward publication begins with making some choices:
  • Traditional Publication or Self-publishing?
    • I've read posts by many successful people, weighing in on this topic. Some good ones were Nathan Bransford's, who writes from the perspective of both an author and a former literary agent, and Jennie Nash's guest post on Rachelle Gardner's blog. (Ms. Gardner also has many other useful posts.)
Assuming you choose traditional publishing: 
  • To seek agent representation or pitch directly to publishers?

Assuming you choose self-publishing:
  • Print publishing? Electronic publishing? Both?
    • This decision will be an issue with traditional publishing as well, but in that case, your choice would depend on the input of your publisher and agent.
  • Choosing a distributor:
    • Amazon? Smashwords? etc.
      • There are a myriad of websites which offer authors the ability to publish, promote, and sell their work. Do you select one? several? all of them?
    • Your own website if you have one.
    • Vanity presses, which will provide you with printed copies.
  • And many more...

Personally, for my novel, I am aiming for traditional publishing. Perhaps, this is because I am a rather traditional person, but also because I believe there is still value in the weight of a publishing house endorsing your work, that is: people with years of experience in the industry having sufficient faith in the quality of your work to pay for all of the publishing costs, as well as, if a writer is lucky, an advance. Granted, the publication of some recent books which shall remain unnamed has undermined in my eyes the authority of the general "publishing house" on the question of quality. Nevertheless, while I am not ruling out the possibility of self-publishing my novel, I will first venture down the traditional path.

That having been decided, at least for now, means my next choice would be whether to seek representation through a literary agent or to approach publishing houses directly—a question complex enough to deserve its own, upcoming, post.

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