Publishing advice

When I tell people I’m a published author I usually get the typical ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’, but to me, writing a book is normal. It’s been such a massive part of my life that I see it as the norm. So when new writers ask for publishing advice I try to give them the best I can. Recently my grandfather asked me to contact a friend of his who was looking at publishing a non-fiction book. I was flattered that someone of his age was seeking advice from a twenty something.

Here is what I told him:

Note: Before you read this, the text is of my own opinion and experience and representing no one’s views but my own.

I’ve had three fiction books (soon to be more) published traditionally over the years. I’m not an expert at it but I hope I can provide you with some good advice. Ian informed me it was a non-fiction book you were looking at getting published. Have you written it? If you have and you’re content it’s completed, I suggest having someone who’s not affiliated with it, such as a friend or work colleague, read over it. Beta readers are great because they can offer fresh ideas and suggestions you normally wouldn’t think of yourself.
I haven’t written non-fiction, and the submission process is a little different but I hope I can help either way. There are two routes you can take: self-publishing or traditional publishing. I’m not sure if you have looked at either, but self-publishing has become quite popular, but it is pricey. You do have to pay to have your book published. I used Zeus Publishing in QLD. I paid at the time $2200 to have my book published, and it didn’t sell. That’s a risk you take, but I also didn’t do any marketing. Traditional publishing is free (you never have to pay a cent to have a book published). Be aware of vanity publishers. These companies pose as traditional publishers, but have secret fees that catch you. Always read the site carefully. They provide false hope because they pretty much take anything – bad or not, so beware. If it sounds too good to be true, it generally is.
There are many non-fiction publishers in Australia, but they are generally hard to get in to, unless you have an agent. I suggest you look at an agent if you wish to publish traditionally. Visit http://pred-ed.com. This site has a network of global publishers (non-fiction and fiction) and agents as well. The site also warns writers of bad apple pubs and agents. I’m afraid people learn the hard way and get burned. It’s a good site to have bookmarked.
There are some good Aussie publishers who don’t need an agent, such as Pantera Press, and I believe New Holland. I went overseas for my books. My publishers (I have 3) are based in USA. If you do chose an overseas publisher, particularly in the US, please be aware of their tax laws. You will have to go to the IRS and get certain forms. I got an ITIN (which is hard to get) but its like a tax file number for overseas writers. Don’t let this dishearten you. For your first book, I do suggest looking at an Aussie publisher to minimize this hassle. Google ‘Australian non-fiction publishers’ and it will come up with a good selection.
When you do come to selecting a publisher, I suggest to keep note of all the ones you submit to. It’s not uncommon for some publishers to take weeks or months to get back to you (I’ve waited 6 months before). Writing a book, non-fiction or fiction is a long process, and sometimes it can take up to a year from the moment you submit it for it to be released. Another piece of advice I’ll give you is to read the submission guides carefully. These always take authors by surprise. They weed out people who don’t take direction. Some publishing submissions guidelines can be long and arduous, while others are short. For non-fiction, I’m not too familiar with submission guidelines but you generally need to submit the first 3 chapters, contents, why you wrote the book, what makes you qualified to write it etc.
Most publishers that aren’t Harper Collins, expect their authors to do their own marketing. Look into getting a website built, do blog tours and delve into social media. I have a little network that I use to promote, such as Twitter and Facebook. Also take the time to join a writer’s site such as authonomy.com and Absolute Write. I am on both and have met other authors and publishers. Its an excellent way to promote your book, but also be around like-minded people. Sites like Authonomy is run by Harper Collins, but they mainly do fiction novels. Absolute Write features both. Scribophile is a good one too where you can feature and provide feedback to other writer’s works.
If you have any questions about this post, please contact me. I am not an expert in book publishing and the above text is only from what I experienced.
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