Advice to New Writers

Don't become the writer from hell.

Unfortunately, over they years I've seen authors who have become their own worse enemies. Often it's because they don't understand the publishing business. And more often, they don't understand what goes on in a small publishing house.

Make sure the small publisher you've submitted to has a distribution source like Ingram.

First off, the author needs to write a good book. It also is a great idea for the author to have someone other than relatives or friends edit the book. It should be someone who actually knows what editing means. Many small publishers don't have the money to hire in-house editors and do the editing themselves.

If your book needs lots of editing, the whole publishing process will be slowed down.

Even in this day and age with all the electronic help, there are many upfront costs for the publisher. He or she may or may not hire a book formatter, a book designer, and a cover artist. Many do farm out this kind of work.

Once your book has been submitted and you're offered a contract, read it carefully before you sign. See what the publisher has promised to do for you and what you are expected to do.

The publisher is working with more than one author at a time. Your book is not going to the top of the list. Getting a book ready for publication takes time. Granted with a small press, that time will be much shorter than a big publisher who may take up to two years.

Bugging a publisher, sending endless emails, will slow the whole process down. Limit your contact only to important issues--and make sure they really are important.

Be sure you have a promotion plan--no matter who publishes you the greater part of the promotion of your book will be up to you. There are thousands of books published each year, it's up to you to let people know about yours. You should have a presence on the Web, people should recognize your name when they see it.

Once the books is out get even busier with your promotion.

Understand the royalty process. Before your publisher even sees a dime, a cut will be taken by the various distributors, the share that is then divided among the publisher and you will not be much. Sometimes there are returns that have to be figured in and will cut down the royalties. You probably will be disappointed in what you make unless something miraculous happens.

Understand what the Amazon rank numbers mean--the higher it is, the less books you've sold. Join Author Central at Amazon and you can get a more realistic picture of how many print books were sold.

If you are unhappy with your publisher--or he/she with you, the contract can be terminated.

If that should happen either by you or the publisher, you are much better off to keep the details private. Don't broadcast them all over the Internet. Why? You do want to get another publisher, right? Publishers all know each other and they converse with one another, and yes, they do pass the word about a writer from hell.

Maybe you think I've always had it good, believe me I've been through my share of less than honest publishers--but other than saying that, I never broadcast who they were, or why I thought they were dishonest. (Remember, I've been published since 1982.)

What I have seen over the years though, is promising writers who destroyed their own careers. Of course, nowadays, with the ease of self-publishing, there is a solution for an author who can't find another small publisher.

Frankly, I don't want to go through the hassle of publishing myself and if you don't either, pay attention to my advice.

Written from my heart.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith


an muti said…
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Janet Greger said…
Good advice. Maybe it should have been titled "Advice for anyone thinking about writing a novel." I don't think most prospective authors have a clue.
JL Greger
Great advice, Marilyn. The first year of publishing was a total education for me, but well worth everything I've learned. Much of what I've learned came from personal experience, but I've also learned LOT from you with years of publishing under your belts.
Thank you so much for much for leaving your comments. This whole process takes so much time to learn.
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Billie Johnson said…
Thanks for your comments and advice, Marilyn. As usual, you are right on point.

The only thing I might add is that it is good to keep in mind that the publisher and staff are people too, and being nice nice!


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