Saturday, February 4, 2012
Publishing my NaNoWriMo Novel!
I have always been and will always be a writer. This past November, my determination and skills were put to the test when I participated and completed NaNoWriMo, writing a little over 50,000 words (a short novel) in 30 days. Since then, I have been researching how to go about self-publishing my novel. I feel that trying to get my novel published in the "traditional" manner, by sending copies of the manuscript out to publishing houses would be an endeavor in futility, because most publishing houses will not even glance at a manuscript unless it is submitted by a literary agent. I have been on several publishing houses' websites, like Zondervan and Thomas Nelson (to list a couple), and they state right on their "submission" section that they DO NOT accept most manuscripts and WILL NOT read them if you send them. So....What's a girl like me to do in times such as these?
The answer is: self-publish.
Self-publishing literally seems to be the only option I have at this time, and even so, I'm not sure I will be able to afford the cost! Now, in a "fair" world (one where I'm already a world-famous author and publishing houses are pursuing me, begging me to sign contracts with them), publishers would pay me to allow my wondrous words to be published by them. But the harsh reality of the publishing world means that I will have to pay someone (a small-time printer or publisher) to compile, edit, package, print, and market my novel, and if I sell enough copies, then maybe, just maybe, a "real" publisher may pick it up and sign me to a contract.
But there's a lot of "maybes" in that sentence. And there are TONS of small-time self-publishing houses that exist only to take an aspiring young writers' naively handed-over money, in exchange for a shoddy, haphazardly-printed novel that looks like a 4-year-old compiled it than a legitimate publisher. I've even heard horror stories of spelling errors being purposefully added to manuscripts by "editors," so that the client will have to pay more money for it to be re-edited.
These are scary times, and I've heard rumors that things are going getting worse. Some companies like Amazon (a huge online retailer of self-published books), and Barnes & Noble Booksellers, who previously had agreements to stock each others' shelves with self-published books, are now canceling such agreements, meaning that self-published books are going to have to find other, lesser-known shelves to fill.
This site called Writer Beware has been a good eye-opener for me, as it contains a "black-list" of self-publishing houses who have treated customers so badly it's a wonder they're still in business. Some folks have had great experiences, however, with a couple of the blacklisted publishing houses, so that makes me wonder what factors were involved that caused some people to have horrible experiences with these places, and others to have incredible experiences.
I have determined that, as with most important things, it is invaluable to take the time and do lots of research before jumping into the mire, but there will always be a certain amount of risk involved. Both self-publishers and myself have no way of knowing if my novel will sell or not, so there is some risk involved for each party.
I found Westbow publishing, a small division of Thomas Nelson (a well-known Christian publisher of Bibles and books), and have been in contact with a representative there. I have seen Westbow titles on Barnes & Noble shelves in the past, so that comforts me a lot! At least Westbow seems to be a legitimate self-publishing house. And another bonus is that they have a "parent" company, which is Thomas Nelson. Most other self-publishers (at least that I know of) are stand-alone companies, with no parent company to contact if they rip you off or produce shoddy work.
So, while there were a couple red flags raised in my mind with Westbow, there are a few things about them that make me feel more at ease. But regardless, I haven't chosen a self-publisher yet, so I'm open to any suggestions or advice! Thanks so much for reading, and let me know what you have to say!