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How will I get published?

You just ship your MS off to a major publisher of your choice, and wait for them to print and sell it, making you rich and famous. (Hmm, what's taking them so long.)…


Take the initiative yourself. Why? A major publisher's eye is very critical; good writing is not enough. The publisher is thinking, Will your book earn me a hefty return on investment within six weeks? Is it ready to send to the printer?

As an alternative path to publication, Beta Books is set up to help you make your own decisions.

Decisions? What decisions?

You've already made the most important decision— the hard work of writing a whole book, right? (Wait—are you still putzing around, half finished? Go directly to Book Doc for a kick in the pants help with style and strategies on getting it done. Come back here later, when your MS is ready.)

No, really, I have the manuscript pretty well finished. So why would I need Beta Books? I'll just contact an agent; that's what they're paid for, right?

Don't get me started on agents. If you've already got a superb MS, they know who to talk to— but they're primarily negotiators. In other words, they are not in the business of improving your book. You know who is?

Beta Books freelancers have "been there, done that" in writing, publishing, and design long enough to know which part of the process they're good at. Take advantage of their expertise to make your MS into a "property."

Honestly, if you don't have a known name, your stuff had better be good. Or else focused on a specific target audience that already know you.

I don't mean to discourage you. What I'm saying is this: Doing it all yourself is a tough row to hoe. At the least, please get input from others. And I don't mean, "That's nice, dear," from your mom.

How ready did you say your MS was?

These are the types of questions you (as publisher) should be asking yourself (as editor):

  • Is this MS complete?
  • with no repetitions or gaps?
  • vetted?
  • believable?
  • well-paced?
  • fresh?
  • reviewed?
  • error-free?
  • fact-checked?
  • hot topic?

On the other side of publishing, you should be asking yourself (as marketer):

  • are more books or sequels on this topic or genre planned?
  • expertise?
  • distinguishing features to mention in promo copy?
  • who is the competition?
  • what's new in this book? What's the hook?
  • how's the market for this genre lately?
  • paper, ebook, audiobook?
  • what else has author published? Any awards?

And, later, who will handle the actual production? Promotion? Distributors, reviewers, agents, dealers, collectors, remainder houses? Let's start with…

The Lists

Note: Individual freelancers or small studios set their own rates; you, the author, negotiate directly with the ones you select. Beta Books takes no commission in those transactions.

NOW FOR THE BUSINESS END. How do you work with agents, consultants, distributors, chains. Or should you try small publishers directly first? Go to The Book Business to explore the world of agents, small and large publishers, distributors, wholesalers, Amazon, consultants, marketers.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS for determined DIYers. The process, the costs, the decisions, a table for sample budgets. Go to Q&A

Beta Books is an imprint of Bandanna Books

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MAURICIO PARRA, Profes­sor of Latin Studies, Illinois Wesleyan Univer­sity

REV. DOUGLAS MILLER, Former Baptist minis­ter, college profes­sor

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