SPEND ANY MONEY ON GETTING PUBLISHED
a published author used to be one of the hardest things in the world.
Ever since book printing was introduced to the western world by
Johannes Gutenberg, only the chosen few would ever see their books
in print. The main reason: publishing someone's book required steep
investments by the publisher. And since it's all about profit, 99
percent of all would-be authors were left out. Too high-risk.
and the British never liked this. The more affluent among them decided
to take matters in their own hands, so they offered publishers money,
and got their books accepted that way. It is called vanity or subsidy
publishing, and it was stigmatized overnight. Paying to be published
is not the same as getting paid to be published.
there were the few that chose to become their own publisher. They
self-published their book, and mostly got nowhere because book stores
do not deal with non-established publishers. To be sure, there is
always still an occasional money shark out there reminding people
that they can all become the next Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway,
or James Redfield who also were forced into self-publishing when
they first began, but that's like saying that any nextdoor girl
can become Princess of Monaco, just because Grace Kelly did it,
too. In reality, self-publishing and vanity publishing is sheer
horror. It never pays back what you paid out.
So where does
a brand new author go? You have just finished that book that you
spent many, many months on. What path to take?
never spend any money on getting it published, period. Don't
fall into the trap set by legions of subsidy publishers who promise
you the world and charge you anywhere between a few hundred bucks
and a few grand for doing what other publishers, the legitimate
ones, do for free.
query as many big houses as you dare. Postage is the only money
you should ever spend. Take a chance, mail those manuscripts
their way. Try Random House, Putnam, Penguin, HarperCollins, Knopf,
Time Warner, a University press or two. The odds are tremendously
against you, all the cards are stacked the wrong way. But that does
not need to keep you from trying. And if those big boys require
that you submit through an agent, get yourself that agent. But again,
beware! Never pay any money to an agent, not until they produce
yourself for a long, long wait, and for a string of desillusions.
The major league of publishers accepts less than .5 (that's right,
less than one-half) percent of all submissions. You will hear
back from them, sure enough. Within two years, if you are lucky.
And the answer is always a firm, "No!" If it's a Yes,
you were either opening a letter that was not intended for you,
or you are the luckiest writer in the world. Being drafted by the
publishing major league is like a lottery. If you win,
millions will envy you.
As for the rest
of us, reconsider the game you are playing, the one that used to
be, and still is, one of the hardest things in the world: getting
published by walking the beaten path. What do you do while you
await your next rejection from New York? Do you sit idle, or
do you grow smart?