Thursday, July 21, 2005

TIPS ON PUBLISHING (contributed by Skarr One)

So, you've spent all this time and effort in producing a great book. What's the next step?

The first step seems fairly obvious but overlooked by many authors before they start submitting their work to publishers and agents.

Hire an editor or do it yourself, if you are so inclined and have the courage. It's difficult to edit your own work as you are sometimes too close to it to spot the obvious mistakes that would be more readily apparent to an external, independent editor. Spellchecking and grammatical mistakes may be taken care of by your software (although Word is good, it's not perfect and many times, there are perfectly good sentences or phrases which Word highlights in red) but trust me, there is no substitute to having someone else read your work and give you honest feedback, especially on parts which don't make any sense to the overall story or theme.

Think about a good title that will reflect the theme of your book and finally, sit down and write a brief description of your work (200 words or less - that's the standard) and a one line blurb for the header [ not the title but something about the work itself that will catch someone's eye if you put it on a banner or in a meta tag embedded on your site].

Finally, we get to the most important piece - the cover. A well designed cover invariably sells better than a poorly designed one and don't skimp on this. A lot of discussions and ideas are needed and you may have to go through several designs / artists, before you find the cover you like.

Once you have all these elements (you can leave the cover for later but keep the design elements in mind), write a good covering letter with a brief synopsis of your novel (200 words or less) and send it to various publishers / agents. There are so many of them and depending on your genre / type of novel, you can email most of them with a query.

While waiting for responses (which can take weeks or months, as many publishers have a huge volume of queries to wade through), think about self publishing your ebook at places like lulu.com and ebookad.com, where you can upload and sell your books for free.

However, don't expect spectacular sales at any of these outlets. All you are trying to do now is generate some buzz and hopefully, attract the attention of a publisher or agent, who will contact you if they are interested.

You may also try setting up your own blog or web site to promote / sell your work directly. It all depends on how much you want to spend or how convinced you are about the quality of your own work.

Ultimately, writing is a really tough business and selling books is probably the most difficult hurdle to overcome for a talented author. You may be the best author in the world in your mind but if no one knows you or knows about your book, it doesn't really matter. Seeing your name in print is one thing but marketing your book to the public is a matter of trying various strategies or having someone else do it for you.

Good luck if you are new to publishing and welcome to my world, as I'm also in the same boat. We cannot all expect to sell as many books as say, the Harry Potter series of books, which has become something of a phenomenon. However, we all have some creativity, something which we wish to share with others. In my mind, writing is the best way to express and share this with the rest of the world. The objective, I think, is not to become famous and earn pots of money but to share your thoughts, your fantasies, your imagination and your ideas / vision with someone else, through the medium of a book. If people get entertained or inspired by something you wrote, that's all that you should really expect when you sit down and write something.

Above all, you should have fun while writing and if you don't enjoy it, then writing becomes a painful exercise and I really believe your creativity suffers as a direct consequence. Well, there are certain writers (Kafka as an example) who wrote while they suffered but these are the exceptions rather than the rule.