Monday, September 30, 2013

My Guide to Publishing: books to read, websites to find and groups to join.

This post came about from Kellie’s comment on last week’s post, *waves at Kellie*

The first and foremost thing, when either thinking about writing a book or actually being in the process of writing a book, is to decide whether you go the “traditional” route (submitting to and being published by a big publishing company), or the self-publishing route where you do everything yourself or pay someone to do it for you.

Submitting for traditional publishing is incredibly time consuming. It’s finding publishers that take on your genre. It’s finding out how to submit to them and that’s only IF they take unsolicited (not asked for and not from an agent) submissions. Some only accept email copies, some paper submissions, some from agents only. Do you just submit to publishers or add agents to your list? Can you find agents in Australia who take your genre? Do you only submit to Australia or try the US and UK as well? Many, many, many questions come with traditional publishing and that’s why you need to start a plan when you’re either thinking about writing (so you can understand what it all entails), or in the process of writing.

A plan is the man!

BOOKS -

For the traditional route, you will need to scour the internet for publishers or agents.
One book that is INCREDIBLY USEFUL for that is the Australian Writer’s Marketplace. The website of the same name publishes an updated book every year with new information. It has sections for writing for magazines, tv, paper, internet, then there’s agents, publishers, and many more, and they are divided into genres so you can check on who publishes books in your field so you don’t waste your money submitting to publishers who don’t publish your sort of writing, and you can aim for the ones you do. It not only keeps your expenses down, but means you can streamline your finances and submitting times. A very handy book for first time writers.

And if they aren't in the book, which they should be, the big publishers of Australia can be Googled any time.

When writing, there is one book I definitely recommend, “Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies”, by Leslie, J, Wainger. She runs Harlequin/Mills and Boon and knows what she’s doing. If you aren't submitting to them, I still suggest you read it for the details and help they give. How to set out your story, how to show not tell, and how to format your manuscript for submission as publishers can be very picky about font and sizing. You’ll also find these details on many publisher sites under submission guidelines. If you don’t follow guidelines, they aren't interested.

Other books I recommend, even though I haven’t read them, are Idiot’s Guides. There is “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel”,by Tom Monteleone, and one I recommend for you Kellie, is “The Complete Idiot’sGuide to Writing Erotic Romance” by Alison Kent. Since you work in a library you should be surrounded by books to check out. And for those who don’t work in a library, scour your local for ANY books on writing novels, manuscripts, screenplays, non-fiction, real life, any and all sorts of books to do with writing could be very beneficial to what you are doing.

They will show you how to layout your manuscripts for submission. How to set up paragraphs and chapters. How to fill out your story and write to the best of your ability.

WEBSITES -

For writing sites I suggest the Australian Writer’s Centre in your area or closest city. I joined mine for a year to see what I could get out of them. It wasn’t much but you might have more use for them than I did. You get newsletters with great info on competitions and publishing opportunities as well as group functions and author meetings.

Then there’s the Australian Writer’s Marketplace as mentioned above. I also joined for one year but didn’t renew as I could get the book from my library.

GROUPS -

There are many to join depending on your genre. If you’re writing romance, try the Romance Writers of Australia. They also have pages on Facebook and a group on Yahoo. I know you will find almost any genre of writing as a Yahoo group, and probably a Facebook page.

Writing Book Clubs. There are many in each state and they could benefit you in so many ways. Exchange chapters, manuscripts, get ideas, meet for weekends at writing camps. Anything you can do to gain experience and knowledge is worth it, especially if it’s free.

Don’t forget writing courses at your local TAFE or equivalent school in your area, and there’s also correspondence classes and course online.

Now, for self-publishing resources. I did not come across many. I had such problems with finding any books in my library, or any I could find online. Now, five years later, there are so many books on self-publishing available on Amazon you can buy and download them to your Kindle or tablet. Google for the most popular ones or scour Amazon and check the reviews, then Google the authors and read their websites for more info and to see whether they are legit and knowledgeable.

If you go the self-publishing route and choose Smashwords or CreateSpace, then I highly recommend the Smashwords guides to publishing, which are not only free, but written by the owner and founder, Mark Coker. They are extremely helpful and will give you tips and pointers with marketing, writing, formatting and so much more. Smashwords also has a blog and Facebook page.

Amazon has CreateSpace and KDP. They both have forums for members and you can find lots of useful information on them as well. It does take time to scour their sites but you can find some great info and ask lots of questions like I have.

So there you go, just some of the best I came across on my journey through writing and self-publishing my novels.


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