Updated: Oct 22, 2018
I was asked recently what my goals were for publishing my novel and after thinking briefly about it, I said, "to have people read it."
It sounds simple, but I really want to push my work out into the world so others can sit down and curl up to it. And so I can move on to write new projects. Growing up, books made such a difference in my life that I would love for even one person to read a book I wrote and take something away from it. As I young girl, I remember reading young adult books by author Jean Thesman (now deceased) and wanting a bit of each of her character’s lives to become a part of my own--so much so that I signed myself up for piano lessons after reading her book about the female piano prodigy.
Maybe in a way, that’s what books do to us; they become a part of us.
I went to a reading this week at Trident Booksellers in Boston for one of Grub Street's (Boston's big creative writing organization) Craft on Draft nights--a reading series that focuses on a particular element of craft. This week's focus was character. I love going to literary readings not just to hear author's read, but to feel like I'm part of a community. I saw some great people I know from other Grub events and met the three people at my table who all had interesting stories of their own in their quest to write and publish their books. Each of the three writers presenting came from a range of publishing backgrounds--from hybrid to traditional.
My current personal quandary is this: what route do I want to take to publish? There are four primary modes of publishing a novel out there right now that I have varying amounts of knowledge of. Here is a (very) brief rundown:
Traditional PublishingThis format often means being published by a large publishing house--one of the Big Five--where each author must be represented by an agent. Authors receive an advance and a smaller percent of royalties.
Small(er) pressesMid-to-small presses do not always require an agent and are a lower-budgeted publishing route with often a very limited print run and a small stipend provided to author.
Hybrid PublishingThis is a fairly new concept where the publishing house and the writer split the publishing costs. Books published by reputable hybrid publishers are sold in traditional bookstores and are as professionally published as the traditional books. Writers, who are often vetted for the quality of their manuscript, receive no advance, have to pay their share of publishing costs up front, but receive higher royalties than traditional.
Self-publishingAuthor is responsible for all elements of editing, design, publication, and marketing (or paying for professionals to help with such). An option available for everyone, however it can be limiting in terms of distribution, industry acknowledgment, and reviews. All earnings go to author.
Where do I stand? I have always, wanted to go the traditional publishing route and never had much interest in self-publishing. As mentioned in my previous post, I have had varying amounts of interest from agents over the years. As I stand right now, I have four agents reading my full manuscript that I’m trying to publish right now. I also got accepted by She Writes Press, a well-respected hybrid publisher, but am debating if it’s worth (and if I can afford) splitting the costs with the publisher. But if my priority is getting my book out there, I’ll have to weigh what my most viable option is.
Updates to follow!
(And if you've pursued or considered any of these options before, I'd love to hear your story!)