Writer / Freida Dowler

Photographer / James Eichman

It is often said, “There is a book in everyone,” and today it’s easier than ever to write and publish if that’s your dream. In the U.S. alone, over 300,000 traditional books are published annually as well as nearly three million e-books. Compare that to the 9,700 books published 100 years ago. The digital age has caused an explosion in the exchange of information, tremendously affecting the world of publishing.

Traditional Publishing
19160820753_9208760a2a_kHemmingway typewrote novels and passed them on to his editor while living his adventurous bohemian lifestyle. Traditional publishing, like that used for publishing Hemmingway’s novels, is the oldest form of publishing and is the most difficult way to get published. A traditional publisher is in business to make money, and in order to make money from an author, it must be a story that the public is interested in hearing like Hemmingway’s adventures were in the time before widespread world travel.

It begins with a query letter that asks the publisher if they are interested in your story. This consists of a brief description of your book and the reason you are the best person to tell the story. If they like your proposal, they will ask for more, including a chapter-by-chapter outline. They will want to know your style as well as your story. Oftentimes a ghostwriter writes celebrities’ stories like how Jerry Jenkins, a prolific author on his own, assisted Billy Graham in his autobiography. If your story is high-profile or if you’re a marketable brand like Nicholas Sparks or J.K. Rowling, they will probably be interested.

A traditional publisher will handle the marketing and public relations for books which drive sales. They will give the author advance pay and a royalty from the sales. They also require a contract including owning the publishing rights. Navigating this can be difficult and usually requires an agent who is familiar with this territory. Traditionally published books can take up to two years from conception to completion, but the top five publishing houses aim for the Best Seller list — selling over one million copies. Medium and small publishing houses aim high but accept less.

If there’s a book inside you that wants out, then self-publishing is also an option. A.D. Ellis of the Greenwood area has published five e-books and is working on number six since Oct. 2013 — the same two-year period a traditional publisher takes to publish one Best Seller. She belongs to Romance Writers of America, a professional organization dedicated to helping create high-quality romance writing through education and networking.

She got the idea for her first novel while observing two siblings at church and wondering about the dynamics between the one who was handicapped and the one who was his helper. As a teacher, she observes children, but this story played out in her mind and she wrote For Nicky.

“Submitting my work to a traditional publisher was daunting, but when I got a Kindle for Christmas, I began to think about other options,” said A.D. Excitement grew as she learned how to self-publish directly to Kindle. Encouragement from friends and family fueled her desire. As she kept writing, the characters grew up and moved on in her Torey Hope novels. In the last of this series, they come back home.

A.D.’s experience as a small-town school editor gave her confidence to take on this new form of publishing. She taught herself to format her documents for uploading directly to Kindle. She owns the publishing rights to her books and is paid directly into a PayPal account for sales. Her advice to those considering self-publishing is, “Have a good story, a good cover and a good editor.”

Marketing her book has been the most difficult part of her journey. She spends time every day on some aspect of her second career, hoping someday it will pay off. As a teacher, wife and mother of two who gets up at 4:30 a.m. to begin her day at the gym, she is proof that through dedication, self-publishing can be successful.

Hybrid Publishing
A hybrid publisher is another publishing option. It falls in between traditional and self-publishing. These publishers want to help with your dream of having a published book. They offer publishing packages for a price to the author while investing their resources and experience. It includes many things that traditional publishers offer and takes away some of the burden involved in self-publishing from you. In essence, you pay someone to edit your story, design a cover and interior and help market your book. They manage your project for you. Hybrid publishers vary greatly, so reading their contract thoroughly is necessary.The Torey Hope Novels

Approaching a hybrid publisher is like being on Shark Tank, only not in person. You’ll send a letter of introduction and include a proposal consisting of an outline, biography, résumé and marketing plan. Altogether, that is typically somewhere around 30 pages. They will also want you to have your story already written. Whether or not they invest in your book to help you make it marketable depends on how compelling the story is and how many people are likely to buy your book. Most often, you retain the publishing rights to your story, and they pay you a royalty.

Several fly-by-night hybrid publishers have existed for only a couple years, so investigating a reputable one is a must. Some have folded with many hopeful authors’ hard-earned investments going with them — along with their dream of having a published book.

This is a good option for those with a niche market. For example, how you trained for and won a mini-marathon; how you grew your church from 100 to 100,000; or how you became nationally renowned for your hosta growing skills. Fiction can also have a niche market. It might be something like aliens training monkeys as soldiers to take over the world. Your audience may only be a handful, but if they are interested in your subject, they will likely buy your book. The average number per book sold is 500.

Write First, Publish Next
A.D. has some advice if your dream is having a book published. “Write the book first. Without a book, you won’t even need to consider publishing.”

The question of how to get published is answered first by believing your story is worth telling. Don’t be overcome with choices but resort to diligence, resourcefulness and patience. A published book is the prize.

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