This may not be possible.

I’ll say it again – this may not be possible. Sometimes, it’s not even advisable. For several reasons.

Traditional publishing, which is what you’re probably dreaming about, is a tough business but it’s not personal. First, you have to query an agent – that means pitch your book to him. Make him interested; make him want to read more. If he likes it, and thinks he can sell it, he may take you on as a client.

Sounds good so far, right?

Well, you might have to query several agents. Or hundreds. And…

…none of them may want to represent you.


Your book might need a lot of work. Your book might have been already done…repeatedly. To death. Or the agent might not believe it’s “commercial” enough – and that means he doesn’t think it will sell. Because, well, if it doesn’t sell, he won’t make any money. And neither will you.

Then, too, there’s a possibility that your book sucks.

I know, I know – your mom read it, your husband read it, your best friend read it. Oh, and she’s the one who “edited” it too. Um, yeah. About that. Find a professional to do your editing – your friend might not be the best choice, unless you KNOW FOR SURE that she can spell, punctuate, and use proper grammar. And not because she told you that, but because you’ve actually SEEN some things she’s written. And if she hasn’t written anything, even a “note” on Facebook, find someone else.

Please – don’t do it yourself. You know how, sometimes, you’ll type a word and it looks funny after you’ve read it over and over? A lot of words, in a book you wrote, will start to do that; but eventually, even the wrong words look right. Then you’re in trouble.

At this point, you still have choices. You can take whatever the agent said, if he said anything to you at all besides “thanks, but no thanks,” and rework the book; you can Google “self-publishing” and find a company that will take a lot of your hard-earned dollars, i.e., make YOU pay THEM, to publish your book; or you can go the completely self-published route, the DIY path.

However, there is still the possibility that your book sucks.

I really can’t say this enough.

Self-publishing is big these days; it might even last, hard to say. But there’s a reason that the Big Six don’t publish every book that might make it through their hallowed doors. Some books are awful. Yes, I know even these giant behemoths publish crap sometimes – I’m always surprised but I really shouldn’t be shocked. Crap is everywhere.

So if you find a “publishing” company that wants big bucks to “publish” your book – be very, very careful. Very. Careful. Double-check, triple-check, sleep on it, ask anyone you can grab what they think about this company, frequent the message boards. And, while you’re at it, check Amazon – they might not be good for much, but they do list the publisher and you can do a search. See what kind of crap they’ve published (the company you’re checking out, not Amazon). If it’s bad, keep looking.

Probably – not always, but probably, you don’t want to deal with one of these places. THEY are supposed to pay YOU, not the other way around. And ESPECIALLY check out their website – if it’s crap, if there are a lot of grammatical errors, run away. Fast. They haven’t a clue. And, if the only books they’ve “published” are written by the PUBLISHER – run faster. Google him too; sometimes you can find more about the company by checking the so-called guru in charge.

If you want the “true” self-publishing route, go for it. One big advantage is that your book will be out much, much quicker than using traditional publishing and, usually, “those other” companies I just mentioned. But please, make sure that it doesn’t suck. And make sure you don’t get taken for a ride. It’s gonna be real tough to sell a bunch of bad books just to break even – it’s hard enough to sell a good book.

But whatever you do if you self-publish, be upfront with the bookstores and anyone else you come into contact with regarding your book: if you self-published, say so. Don’t tell us that “ABCXYZ” published your book – it’s really easy to check who “owns” that company. I’m not an attorney or a tax accountant but, by all means, if you want to use a DBA for publishing, feel free. Just don’t expect us to think it’s a “real” publishing company unless it is indeed one.









4 comments on “Dear-Writers-Who-Want-To-Be-Published:

  1. This is great advice, Robin! A ‘must read’ for anyone contemplating publishing.


  2. Great tips here Robin!


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