So you’ve written an amazing manuscript that you’ve poured your heart and soul into. Working on it has cost you time away from family, friends and the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. Well, that movie premiered six months ago and the polished manuscript is still sitting on your hard drive in the same folder marked “bills to be paid”. Why not shoot for the dream of getting your work out there now? With traditional publishers strapped for cash and becoming even more exclusive about who they carry (even authors they have published previously are jockeying for position) there is no better time than now to start your enterprise and be your own boss.
Need some reasons to send you over the hump? Here you go.
Control over the Finished Look and Contents of your Book
When Haven the graphic novel was being edited, I was asked to start from scratch because of the layout. The way I had it set up initially was by having the reader dive right into the action and relay her origin story as we moved through the scenes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have been published traditionally but I can’t help but wonder how things would have turned out if it had been edited differently. In addition the editor was changed mid-development and with that change there was no chance of him getting to know the essence of the characters because of the tight schedule we were on. I have to clarify that I’m not bitter or upset about any of this. To the contrary, I learned a great deal from that experience. These are just things that happen when you’re with a traditional publisher so you have to expect it to some degree. When you have control of your book, you are paying for a level of editing that your manuscript needs (and it will need it). All manuscripts should and must be rigorously edited but in the long run…
No one cares more about your characters than you.
Lightning Source is a godsend. Once your manuscript is ready for print (after you’ve done all the edits and designed an eye-catching cover) you simply upload to them and they assign an ISBN and make it available through Ingram in paperback, hardback and color. If you’ve not heard of them you can check out their website here. There are too many e-book formatting services out there to list here but trust me, they are easy to find.
You Get More of the Profit
Whether or not you decide to go with a traditional publisher you’re going to have to market your book yourself. It’s all up to you and no one is going to do it for you. This means building your readership via blog or social media prior to release. This means waiting until everyone is in bed (if you have kids) and staying up late at night getting to know your readers. Why not retain more of the profit from your blood, sweat and tears? You’re going to have to do the work either way! Besides, readers like to hear from the writers anyway, not a go-between.
Retain Your Rights
This one is a no-brainer. Sure a publisher has an “agent” that will pitch your ideas to the production companies/studios but if you take the time to build a website that is easy to navigate that includes your contact information they’ll know where to find you. And if you’re exploiting every possible means to get your book out there someone/somewhere will find you who will lead you to someone else. I got my first publishing contract through a friend that I met on MySpace. With prolific social platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook the sky is the limit as to who you may connect with in the future. Right now I’m connected with a guy who works for DC Comics and is setting up a website where game developers and studio professionals can go view our work. When your work goes through a publisher to the studio it goes in a package (this is the case in some publishing houses, not all) in the midst of every other writer’s book.
It’s Not What It Used to Be
You might be thinking, “Lenny, you’ve already been published traditionally. Let me have the same chance/experience.” If you are thinking that then you are correct in feeling that way. There is certain giddiness about getting that contract signed and getting that box of freshly printed books in the mail from your publisher. I’m also saying that mindsets are changing and that given everything outlined above there is no reason why you can’t finally achieve that dream instead of waiting months for someone to read your awesome manuscript. The more of you that are out there the more minds will shift and who knows, traditional publishers may soon be competing for your attention. I am in the process of creating a brand under the name Leonardoverse and will be publishing Jupiter Chronicles, Haven of Dante and Fables of Pangaea and a slew of other properties through that entity. There’s no reason why you can’t give it a shot.
Hope to see you out there!
Leonardo Ramirez is an author of prose fiction and graphic novels in the genres of Young Adult and Children’s Books. For more information please visit http://www.leonardoverse.com.
Thanks for reading!