I’m a huge fan of Murder, She Wrote. I used to get tickled when so many “aspiring novelists” would ask Jessica Fletcher her opinion on their manuscripts.
Now that I am an author, I have no idea how Jessica could possibly have had time to read all of those manuscripts with all of the other responsibilities and tasks authors have to do.
Oh yeah. She’s a fictional character.
I’ve been delighted the last couple of weeks, though, to have some folks contact me with news that they’ve finished a book. How cool is that? They’re in the top 20% of people who decide they’re going to write a book. 75%-80% never finish, so writing “The End” is an incredible accomplishment all by itself!
But what do you do with this masterpiece once you’ve finished? That’s the question I’ve been asked twice just this week and numerous times over the course of the last few years. I wish the answer was an easy one, but the truth is, it requires the answer to another question.
What do you want from your book?
If you’re like me, you want a career.
My completed novel was a first. I never intended for it to be my only. It’s still in a file on my computer, but I used it with twice-weekly critique groups, workshops, and too many books on craft to count. Through that first effort, I learned about the craft of writing. The friends I made taught me so much about honing my technique, and they gave insight to the world of publishing.
If you want a career, don’t stop writing. Don’t stop learning. Find a critique group. When your manuscript is at its best, then do your homework on agents. Find those who prefer to represent the genre in which you write. Prepare your query letter or proposals exactly as the agents want to see it.
Pray for God’s direction and send those emails out. Then write some more. If you don’t secure an agent on your first try, write another book and try again. Securing traditional publication takes persistence and patience. In fact, from what I understand, even after successful publication, persistence must continue. A writing career is truly a hard job to attain and difficult to continue.
You may simply want to get your book out there.
That is a totally different situation. There are a couple of avenues here, depending on how much you want to do yourself as opposed to investing in the project. There are companies who, for an excessive price, will publish your book for you. They’ll design a cover, some will provide editorial assistance, and deliver a garage full of copies. The benefit is that everything is done for you. However, the companies will rarely promote your book and, though they might describe how they can get your work into stores, the likelihood of that happening is minuscule. If this is the route you want, investigate the company you choose before you sign your name or cut a check. Especially, contact other authors that have used them and pay attention to reviews on the companies.
The other option is to publish your book using a self-pub program like the one available through Amazon. CreateSpace, Smashwords, (I’m sure there are others) are programs that you can use to set your story at various sellers like Barnes and Noble or Books-a-Million. The beauty about this type of program is that you can present your stories as e-books, or as print-on-demand issues. No boxes of books in your garage.
Another plus is that you have complete control over your book. You can create a cover on your own or have someone design it for you. Likewise, there are a number of low-priced freelancers who will happily format your story for you and submit it to Amazon. Or, you can learn the step-by-step process of the formatting and do the work yourself.
Now more than ever, there are opportunities for would-be authors. But regardless of the direction you decide to take, make your book the best it can possibly be. Hone your skill. Get professional editing. Make sure that you can be proud of your final product. Your creation deserves your best!
Your Turn: If you are a writer (or would like to be) what genre of book would you like to write?