I see so many people asking about publishing options for their stories. My first question is always ‘Have you written your story yet?’
A surprising number of people haven’t written a word, yet they’re already researching whether or not to pursue self-publishing or traditional publishing.
While it’s great to write with a publishing goal in mind, it helps to write your manuscript first.
After you’ve written your first draft, you will have a better idea of things like:
- the length of your manuscript
- the themes of the story
- the style and genre
While you may know some of these things before you start, writing your draft will help you to be clearer about your manuscript, and then you can look at options more closely.
For example, if your manuscript is time sensitive, then self-publishing may be your best option as traditional publishing can take longer (not always, but in general it does). You may also find your fantasy novel is only 30,000 words and traditional publishers want novels that are 100,000 words. You can then work out whether you are able to make your story longer, or if adding words is just padding your story and you prefer a shorter work.
The same with a picture book. Most publishers are looking for manuscripts under 500 words. Your manuscript may be longer and you really don’t want to cut out words, or it’s been through editors and you simply can’t get it below 500 words without losing something in the story.
These are just a few examples of where writing your manuscript may help you to work out what publishing options to pursue.
When I wrote Swallow Me, NOW!, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted the ending to be. This was based on speaking with a number of kids about books they had read about bullying and their experiences with being bullied, and I didn’t want an ending where the bully and victim would become friends, or the bully would suddenly change schools. I wanted something different and I felt a traditional publisher would change this. So, I self-published this book. After speaking with traditional publishers and editors, my feeling about changes was correct.
There is no write or wrong with publishing options. Different authors do things differently. For many, the ultimate decision on which option depends on their manuscript.
So, if you’re looking at publishing a book, start with writing your manuscript. You can research publishing options while you’re writing, however starting with a written manuscript is a great place to start.