Publishing FAQ: Your questions about writing and publishing answeredWill you read my book?

No. I’m sorry, but that’s not possible.

If you’re looking for free feedback, your best bet is to find readers in your genre. These should be people who love your genre and read tons of books in that genre. Ask for their thoughts: what did they like? Where did they skip ahead? Were they confused at any point?

Should I finish my manuscript or can I pitch an idea to a publisher?

Yes, you should finish your manuscript, especially if it’s fiction. Sometimes nonfiction will sell when it’s not complete, but for new authors, publishers usually want to see the whole thing. 

Should a publisher charge me money to publish my book?

No! If a publisher asks you for money you should be vary wary. There are tons of shady businesses out there that make it a practice to gouge authors who haven’t done their research. Legitimate publishers don’t charge you to edit or print your manuscript. If you decide to self publish, you will have to pay for some costs up-front, like a cover, editing, and possibly formatting and ads, all depending on your skill-set, but your costs should be in the hundreds, not the thousands, of dollars.

How did you get published?

I started writing years ago–in the Dark Ages before ebooks! I sent query letters to agents back in 2003/2004 because that was the only way to go then. It took me about a year to find an agent. We signed a contract saying that she would represent me, then she sent my book out to the larger publishers. It took about a year to hear back from an interested publisher, Kensington. They bought the rights to publish the first books in the series. Since my agent handled the deal, she gets 15% of all my royalties on those books forever, even if I end our agreement. She is the “agent of record.” About a year later, the first book came out in 2006. Traditional publishing moves slowly! Pre-production for the big houses takes about a year. So from looking for an agent to published book took about 6 years.

How did you get into self-publishing?

About 2010, I heard about self-publishing and decided to give it a try. I wrote a new book in a new series (On the Run series). A totally new series was my own. I owned all rights to the work, so I could publish it myself.

How did you learn about writing and self-publishing?

I read books, went to conferences, and listened to podcasts. Some great resources: 

Podcasts:

  1. The Creative Penn Podcast–my favorite writing/marketing podcast. 
  2. The SPA Girls Podcast (Self Publishing Authors Podcast)–great source of info writers who are just starting their publishing journey.

A couple of podcast interviews I’ve done with info on publishing and writing: 

  1. Rocking Self Publishing Podcast interview about writing and publishing.
  2. Scott King’s Creator’s Cast podcast interview about writing mysteries and marketing them.
  3. Story Works Round Table podcast interview on cozy mysteries.
  4. Story Works Round Table podcast interview on plotting mysteries.

Courses/Books:

  1. How to Outline a Cozy Mystery — my own course! :) 
  2. Alida Winternheimer’s The Story Works Guide to Writing Characters.
  3. David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Digital
  4. James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure.
  5. Debra Dixon’s GMC: Goal, Motivation, Conflict.

What is a hybrid author?

Hybrid is a term used to describe someone who publishes both traditionally and indie publishes. I’ve continued to write the Ellie books for Kensington while also self-publishing on my own.

What are the benefits of going with a traditional publisher?

Kensington has been able to get me reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Kirkus. They also get the book in bookstores during the month it is released, but after that, any unsold copies (especially of the hardcover) go back to the warehouse because there is a whole new crop of books being released and the stores need shelf space for the new releases. 

What are the benefits of self-publishing?

I’ve continued to write the On the Run series and added a new cozy series, Murder on Location, to my indie books. I love the creative freedom and the control I have over pricing, distribution, and marketing. I release a print version of all my books and bookstores are able to order them for customers who request them. It’s really hard to get your book–any book–trad or indie–continuously stocked at bookstores, as I mentioned above about my Ellie books. Most sales are digital now. Even with my Ellie books, I sell far more copies of ebooks than print books. 

Which is better trad or self-publishing?

Both trad and indie publishing have pros and cons and each person has to make the decision for themselves. Keep researching publishing options as you work on polishing your manuscript so that you’re well-informed before you make a decision.

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