Getting published: Find your way to the right publisher

Now that you’re done slaying with your pen, and the tedious process of writing, proofreading, and editing has ended, you feel proud enough to show the world your creative writing output.

The question now is, how do you get your manuscript out there?

As I am in a circle of fellow writers and book agents, we all know that there are several ways of getting your written stuff printed into a book and read by the public. This has been a regular topic in our gatherings, especially when one has just finished a manuscript. Any writer who eyes having a publication in his or her name should know that there are three ways he or she can go about it–traditional, subsidy, or self-publication.

Here are a few nuggets of information and insight that stuck to me from our conversations. These tips might help you decide on how to pick the publisher that’s right for you.

Think two times over, and then decide.

I’ve already mentioned that there are more than one ways of getting published. Now, look at the pros and cons of each.

Do you want a publisher that would give you editorial help at some point? How much control over your book and content are you willing to share? On the financial side, is the lack of a monetary advance alright for you? And how much time are you willing to risk before seeing your manuscript bound into a book?

These are just a few considerations you’d want to ponder on before making a move. Think about what would work more for you. Discern, and then decide.

  • Traditional: If you ever dream of being published by Penguin Random House, this the way to go. This entails finding a publishing agent, who can link you with a publisher. Once the publisher accepts your manuscript, you’ve got to deal with giving up ownership of your content’s copyright. They give monetary advance, though! While traditional publishers normally won’t lift a finger to help you market your book, they already have traditional media coverage to offer.
  • Self-Publishing: When you opt to self-publish, you retain your control over your copyright and content, and you get to have publishing royalties to yourself! The trade off though, is that self-publishing requires you to have the money to get published. You also need a lot of time learning about the whole publication process; and effort in establishing distribution channels for your book and marketing it.
  • Subsidy Publishing: If you’re trying to find a middle ground between the first two options, you can choose to have the publication process subsidized by what they call subsidy publishers. They usually take charge of the publication and distribution, and give out royalties to authors depending on book sales. Authors, in turn, pay them for the costs of publication, and get to have a voice in certain aspects of marketing and promotion of his or her book.

Review the publisher’s record with other books.

When comparison among the types of publishers doesn’t satisfy you, take a look at a publisher’s history in publishing books similar to what you envision for your manuscript. This way, you can have concrete examples of how the publisher handled other books of the same genre.

Inspect even their printing quality, so you would get a glimpse of how they handle even the looks of the actual book. Find out if the publisher also had any bestsellers, or how many units of a book they have sold for you to gauge their marketing and promotional strategies. You can use your observations when it’s time to make decisions.

Polish your manuscript.

After putting much thought on the type of publisher you want, go back to your manuscript, and give it another read. You can even give it to others for proofreading. Make sure it’s pretty much error-free before you hand it out to your agent or editor.

Note that editors and publishers will not be kind at all to manuscripts that shout low quality or rushed. Even the way you present the printed copy must be remarkable–high quality, readable ink on crisp, white bond paper will do the trick.

Consider also the type that you will be using in your manuscript. Make sure it’s readable, and of a decent font size. Use double space, and have an inch margin on all sides of your text. Place page numbers as well to guide the manuscript reader accordingly. Read it again and again to make sure there are no misplaced punctuation, or misspelled words. Simply using the spellchecker won’t do, trust me.