I remember hearing about how bestselling author JK Rowling submitted Harry Potter to dozens of publishers before anyone took her seriously. The story suggests that she was turned down many times until one publishing house decided to take the risk; and the rest is history.
Back then, the traditional publishing route seemed to be the standard for most authors. That route looks something like this:
1. Write first draft.
2. Repeat Step 1 three times.
3. Let the manuscript rest (for a minimum of two weeks).
5. Repeat Step 4 at least three times.
6. Get beta readers and wait for them to return your MS.
7. Make the relevant changes suggested by the beta readers.
8. Submit MS to professional editor.
9. Make changes suggested by professional editor.
10. Write query letter (this task is a beast in and of itself).
11. Research agents who are looking for your kind of MS.
12. Submit meticulously crafted query letter to said agents.
13. Pray that you get at least one request for a partial.
14. Pray that the request for a partial leads to a request for a full.
15. Pray that the agent loves the full and agrees to represent you.
16. Pray that the agent is able to sell your work to a publishing house.
The stringent gatekeeping restrictions and protocols significantly diminished authors’ dreams of making it in the industry. If an author couldn't get a publishing company to say “yes” they were pretty much screwed. In fact, most authors don’t get past Step 10.
Now, we live in a different time and self-publishing has become more common than it once. Resources that were once non-existent for the average person are now plentiful. From social media platforms to online marketplaces the sky is the limit for anyone hoping to have a career as a writer. The key is quality.
Here are some things to consider when self-publishing a high-quality book:
1. Write a good story.
2. Self-edit your work. The first draft is never the last draft.
3. Grab a couple of beta readers. They’ll tell you if your story is any good.
4. Make sure your book cover is up to snuff. This has the potential to make or break you.
5. Invest in a professional editor. A non-negotiable
6. Understand how to build your audience and find your readers. This process takes time when done organically but is worth it.
It is difficult to imagine self-publishing before the modern developments of the World Wide Web; however, we are living in a time when there are no excuses for not giving your dreams a fair shot.
If you are reading this and continuing to contemplate whether to self-publish, this is your sign! Dust off that old Microsoft Word file and share your stories! And of course, if you need help, don’t hesitate to contact the BKE Team!