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How to Get Published

An overview and timeline for traditional, self and DIY book publishing

Having a book published and available to readers is a rewarding journey. Often, writers don't know how to publish a book or what happens between finding a publisher, often the first step of publishing, and getting it in the marketplace, the last step. Here we will cover three popular routes to publishing - traditional, self-publishing and do-it-yourself (DIY) - and cover all the steps of the publishing process for each method.

Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing is the route most associated with the term "publishing." Most publishers require you to find a literary agent to represent you and your manuscript. The agent will pitch your book to traditional publishers and potentially sell the rights if a publisher is interested.

1. Query Literary Agents

Send query letters and manuscript samples to literary agents prompting them to represent you and your book. The process of finding a literary agent can take months, if not longer.

2. Revise Manuscript

Your literary agent will likely review your manuscript and work with you to tighten it up with revisions before they pitch it to traditional publishers.

3. Agent Pitches to Publishers

Once you and your literary agent feel your manuscript is in tip-top shape, they will pitch your story to editors at traditional publishing companies.

4. Contract & Advance Offer

Based on market trends, the quality of the book and the publisher's willingness to take a financial risk, a traditional publisher will decide to pass on the project or move forward with your book, offer a contract and a monetary advance.

5. Negotiations

Your literary agent will work between you and the publishing company on your behalf to negotiate your contract terms and how much money you'll receive as an advance. Your literary agent will also earn a portion from these negotiations.

6. Additional Editing

Your new publisher will likely put your book through several rounds of editing, indicating any areas that need to be addressed and reworked. This part of the process can take several months to a year or more.

7. Book is Designed

Once all editing revisions are complete, your book will undergo design to format the interior. Your cover will also be developed. The designs will be influenced by market trends and decisions will be made by the artistic team.

8. Marketing Plan

Most authors will have a galley copy available to send to reviewers, the media and book retailers to generate pre-release buzz for the book. Books by first-time authors will not usually receive a targeted marketing plan from the publisher; it will be the author's responsibility to drive the marketing for the book. Big marketing money is typically spent on promoting books by A-list authors who generate sizable sales numbers.

9. Release Book

The finalized files for your book will be sent to a printer, who will print the copies of your book to be distributed to wholesalers, retailers and warehouses. This point can occur anywhere from one to two years after your book is acquired.

10. Earn

Once your book generates sales, your publisher will take funds from your earnings to compensate for the initial investment they made to acquire your book. You will begin to earn royalties once the publisher has earned their money back.

Publishing a book is not limited to the three tracks above; another option is considered "general contracting." General contracting allows you to maintain complete control over the outcome of your book by hiring professionals to work on each segment of your book's creation. As the author, you are responsible for finding and hiring all these professionals. There are referral services available to connect you with professionals who can do this specialized work (such as editing, interior design, cover design, printers, marketing professionals and more).

Your publishing journey is what you make it. There are countless options and opportunities available to segue you from writer to published author. Do you research and find the option that best meets your goals.

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