Figuring out how to get a book published can seem almost as daunting as writing your entire book. But your topic and chapter drafts are within your control — as soon as you need to find a publisher for your first book, you might not know where to start.
If you feel overwhelmed at this stage, you’re not alone. It’s helpful to think of the process of publishing a book as a project that’s similar to any content project plan. You can give yourself multiple deadlines to stay on track, and work on individual tasks while remaining focused on your big goal.
It’s also helpful to always keep in mind why you wanted to write your book in the first place.
Seth Godin has stated that the reason to write a book versus a blog post, ebook, or PDF is to “make change happen.”
Yes, the Emperor of Content Marketing, Godin, has published books for years.
Not just ebooks, but, real dead-tree printed books with covers.
He says the reason he wrote Linchpin is because:
“If you want to change people, you must create enough leverage to encourage the change to happen.”
A book gives you that kind of leverage.
Books change lives
Celebrities usually write books to “set the record straight” or explain the twisted story of their rise to stardom. They can’t do that with a magazine article or tweet. Changing a reader’s opinion requires space.
A tweet doesn’t often change someone’s life. But books can and do — all the time.
I’ve written my books to help people, and as a result, I’ve received countless emails from readers thanking me for the information. In a small way, my books have changed people’s lives.
They’ve also changed my life.
A book is something tangible you can point to as a repository of your knowledge, whether they’re self-published or traditionally published. Unlike a series of blog posts, a book is organized and works as a cohesive unit. People take books more seriously than almost any other form of writing.
Being a book author gives you a level of credibility like almost nothing else.
Let’s face it, saying you’re a book author has a lot more cachet than saying you’re a blogger.
Where’s your book?
If you’re reading Copyblogger, you’re undoubtedly a writer, content marketer, or some other type of wizard of words.
You’re a writer. Why haven’t you written a book?
Maybe the idea of how to find a publisher is too big and scary. I’m living proof that it’s not as hard as you might think to face those fears, move forward, and get your book out into the world.
7 book publishing facts you’ll wish you learned sooner
Here are seven secrets that are especially relevant when it comes to publishing for new authors.
1. You don’t have to accept rejection
Many people never write their Great American Novel because they think someone might not like it.
We writers are sensitive souls and fear of rejection is real. The secret is: you don’t have to accept rejection.
Have you ever heard of Mark Victor Hansen?
He’s one of the guys who wrote Chicken Soup for the Soul — a book that has made millions of dollars and spawned countless spin-off products. Yet, that book was rejected 140 times. Mark believed in his book, refused to accept the rejections, and kept going.
Another secret is that rejection often has nothing to do with the quality of your book or your ideas.
Many rejections relate to a publisher’s business decisions and have nothing to do with you or your writing at all.
2. You can learn everything you need to know
Many authors take a peek at the book-publishing business, get completely overwhelmed, and run away.
It’s a lot like when you started your own business or your blog and wanted to know how to be a good writer.
There’s a learning curve.
The secret is to realize that although writing is a creative process, publishing is a business. Publishing a book is going to require work and a bit of education on your part.
For less than $100 worth of books about publishing before you get started, you can save an enormous amount of time, money, and aggravation in the long run.
3. You have to market the book
Even if an enormous New York City publishing house publishes your book, you will have to market it.
A first-time author rarely gets help from the publisher. Accept that you will be on your own when it comes to marketing — a fact I’ve discovered first-hand, the hard way.
When you know that you — and only you — will be responsible for marketing your book, you won’t be disappointed.
The key is to think like a marketer who knows how to use persuasive words before you write the first word of your manuscript.
4. You don’t have to sell your soul to “The Man” (unless you want to)
It used to be that you had to beg a Big Publishing Company to give your book idea the time of day.
You needed an agent and preferably a lot of money. And as noted, the Big Publishing Company could still reject your book on a whim.
Book publishing is different now.
You can publish a book yourself or work with local publishers. In the past, self-publishing was often equated to vanity publishing. (In other words, a self-published book was often considered crap.)
But now that idea has been turned on its head. Some people argue that being published by a Big Company is more for “vanity” reasons than anything else. It’s certainly not because of all the great marketing support and sales tips you’ll receive.
You get to say, “My book was published by Big Company.”
Of course, almost no one outside of New York actually cares about that.
Have you ever looked at a book to check and see which company published it? Me neither.
Your readers don’t care who published the book. They care whether or not the book is good.
In the past, I had a couple of books published by a big company. I started self-publishing my books because it made it possible to release books I wanted to write and make a lot more money.
5. Your online presence and knowledge give you an advantage
If you’re here reading Copyblogger, I bet you have a blog.
Or if you don’t, you’re thinking about starting one. Your blog is the beginning of the “author platform” every publisher requires (even if the publisher is you).
Today most books — whether paper or pixels — are sold online.
All the online marketing techniques you use to market your blog or digital products work for a book too. You can leverage what you already know.
A blog also gives you a way to do market research.
Chris Anderson said he wrote many parts of The Long Tail based on comments from his blog.
6. You need to spend time and money on your book
As noted above, publishing is a business.
If you opt to try and get a traditional book publishing deal, it will take time to find an agent, write a proposal, and send out queries.
If you opt to publish yourself, you’ll need to pay for editorial services, ISBNs, and designers.
You need to accept that these investments are part of the business of your book.
7. You will feel resistance at many points during the publishing process
Every writer experiences some level of anxiety about putting a book “out there.”
In his book, The War of Art, author Steven Pressfield talks about the concept of “resistance.” Often authors struggle to get a book out the door.
I’ve worried about each one of my books and how to find a publisher for my first book.
As a bit of an introvert, I worry about putting too much of myself out there on public display or worse, being completely ignored.
The secret to this mental block is to know that resistance happens. It’s part of the process.
Common book publishing questions
Since there are so many steps to getting a book published, here are answers to common questions related to publishing for new authors.
Do I need a publisher for my book?
If you’ve written a book, you can choose to self-publish or get it published by a traditional publishing house. Because you have these two options, you don’t necessarily need a publisher for your book.
While getting a traditional publishing deal is a dream for many writers, you don’t actually need one to produce a book and sell it. Many ebook publishers are able to release a variety of titles because they don’t have to go through traditional publishing steps.
You can easily self-publish on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, or even create an ebook that you sell on your website. If you already have an audience, self-publishing is a direct way to get your book to the people who will be interested in reading it.
How to find a publisher for your first book?
If you’re wondering how to find a publisher for your first book, the best place to start is your own bookshelf or digital book collection. You likely have titles that are related to the book you’ve written. Create a list of the publishers who have released those books.
Your list of publishers is a way to start locating publishers who focus on your niche. To expand your list, next look for publishers who specialize in releasing books in your field.
If you want to self-publish your book, you’ll be your own publisher, which you can add to your website’s about me page.
How to send a book to a publisher?
The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re researching how to send a book to a publisher is whether or not they accept unsolicited submissions. When a publisher doesn’t accepted unsolicited submissions, it’s very unlikely that an editor will review your manuscript, so this is a chance to not be naive and have unrealistic expectations.
When you’ve selected a publisher, look on their website for their mailing address and any special instructions related to manuscript submissions. Sometimes there will be a specific person or department that you’ll want to address on your envelope.
Most digital book files are too large to submit through email, but each publisher will have their own instructions about how to submit a book for publishing.
What kind of books are publishers looking for?
Regardless of what kind of books publishers are looking for, you’ll want to find a publisher who is appropriate for the book you wrote. They’ll understand your audience better and have key insights into developing your draft.
If you haven’t written a book yet, narrow down your interests into a few topics you’d like to explore. At this stage, you can research the publishers who work with those topics to see if they’re looking to publish new authors.
Publishers are interested in finding writers with existing audiences because those writers will already have followers who want to read their books, not necessarily because they know how to write like Hemingway.
Do publishers edit books?
Publishers edit books before the books are published. Even if you’ve spent a good amount of time editing your final manuscript before you submit it to the publisher, they’ll still edit it.
Your editor at a traditional publishing house also might ask you to make changes or write additional sections to make the book more complete. This is an important part of the publishing process because it helps ensure that you provide the best possible book for your audience.
However, it’s still critical that you’ve done your own content editing and submit your best work so that it impresses the publisher (and you get a book deal).
How much does it cost to publish a book?
Whether you self-publish or traditionally publish, it will cost money to publish a book. Traditional publishing costs typically will be less than self-publishing costs. While your total expenses will vary, be prepared to spend anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
You might need to spend money to learn how to write a book proposal. Then, you’ll have to print and mail your proposal and manuscript — so don’t forget about printing and postage costs.
If you self-publish your book, you’ll have to take care of all publishing expenses, starting with any materials you purchase for research. You’ll also have to consider your website and email marketing costs. It’s all related to your publishing venture.
Do publishers charge to publish your book?
Ideally, if you’re looking to traditionally publish your book, publishers will pay you. However, self-publishing platforms will charge you for their services. Even if you create an ebook to sell on your own website, you’ll need software that integrates with a payment platform to sell your book to your audience.
It’s important to remember that book publishing is a business and that there are a number of costs associated with creating a product to sell.
Creating a budget for your book project ahead of time will help you keep your spending within your desired range. If you know how much you’re willing to spend at each stage of the process, you can keep your costs from getting too high.
So, what’s stopping you?
As a good content marketer, you’re probably churning out articles, blog posts, and ebooks. Not to mention, writing copy for your own business or others.
So, why not publish a real print book or long-form ebook too?
A book is your legacy. Start working on yours today.