I'm often asked for information regarding publishing. I want to help as much as I can as I know how daunting it is.
I finally pieced together a place where I could leave this information in a specific spot to reference later.
Be warned, it's not short. It's not easy, nor is it going to be like getting licked on by kittens. Getting published is work, regardless of which way you want to do it - self publishing or outside publishing.
Here, I hope you can find information to help you on your publishing route. A disclaimer, I'm only giving information from my own experiences. I am not a professional, okay I technically am, but I'm not a guru, nor do I hold the path to your success. I am not the know it all. You, the writer control that. The information here is generally for adult fiction, or fiction in general - not non-fiction. I've never tried to get nonfic published so you're on your own!
This is what I've found. Enjoy!
So you're written the great American novel. Now what to do with it?
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Is it finished? - No? Keep writing.
2. It's finished! Is it edited? - No? Edit it.
3. Is it edited enough? - No? I have no clue? Edit it one more time.
4. Have you had someone other than your grandma read it? No? Have someone read it.
5. Got it back from Grandma! Done? No. Edit it one more time.
So now - it's polished and pristine as far as you can tell.
What the crap do you want to do with it?
Do you want to publish it for friends and family? You're not interested in a career or the pain that goes with finding a literary agent or a publisher?
I'd suggest to self publish it.
Create Space (amazon's imprint) is very user friendly, costs very little to publish or order copies. There are other companies that will self publish, such as lulu.com. I don't know much about them. Your best bet there is to research your options.
If you want to try finding a publisher, there are yet even more questions you have to ask.
1. Do you want a smaller publisher, or a larger publisher?
Bring me the Big Guns! I want Random Penguin Haus! See number 2. Generally speaking, most big publishing houses do not accept unsolicited/unagented queries. What does that mean? You need an agent. Smaller publishers and e-publishers are far more liberal with how they accept work. Research your publishers via google. Go to amazon and see what's there. Are the books easy to find? Do the covers strike your fancy? Read a few pages of books to see how the editing is.
2. What's up with literary agents anyway?
They aren't 100% necessary in some cases but good ones are worth their weight in gold. They can be the gatekeepers of the big publishers. They know the deals. They know the language. They can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
Literary agents are located far and wide, and generally not someone you can just go make an appointment with and pitch your work over coffee. They don't work like that. You have to woo them.
Research those literary agents. Google them. A great tool is agentquery.com Check them out on social media - twitter, facebook - etc. Find out -- Is that person someone you want to work with? Look to find out what their latest sales were and how long ago it was. Do they trash talk all the time and haven't had a sale since 1998? Hrm. Simple math there.
Make sure they are good for your genre and are looking for new work! If they're closed for submissions, keep going. You aren't a special snowflake. Don't waste your time or theirs. And for the love of all that's holy don't bad mouth any of them. They talk.
3. Okay, I have a list of literary agents I'm interested in, what do I do now?
Write a query that will knock their socks off. And I won't go into much detail about this because Nathan Bransford (an ex-literary-superhero-turned-author) has written the most concise, helpful how-to ever. Check it out here.
In most cases you'll need a snyopsis, too. He's got that info for ya. .
Then send that sucker. And invest in Tums. And try not to wear out your refresh button because responses take anywhere from 30 seconds to a year.
If you decide you'd rather go at it alone, research publishers who take unagented submissions. Some big houses do! I know TOR and AVON generally will. Just be ready for some long wait times.
But you need to make a decision for an agent or a lit agent first. Don't query publishers and litery agents at the same time. When you do, you cut out possible publishers that literary agents can pitch to, which renders them unable to help. Once that pub door is closed, the agent can't open it back up for you.
4. These options seem like they aren't for me. What else can I do?
Self publishing is a viable option! Just remember, not only are you the author, the producer, you are the editor, the cover artist, the publisher, the marketer, the CEO and the president. You are in control of all and responsible for all! But if it's worth it to you to be in charge of it all, go for it! Stigma is waning with self published authors every day, but it still can be difficult to garner attention.
Overall, your best bet to get a foot in the door is to research. Research the genre, research the publishers and above anything, DO NOT GIVE ANYONE MONEY! EVER! (...or accept a contract from PublishAmerica. -- just google that term with scam and that should tell you most everything.)