Matt Browne's personal experience and advice
on writing and publishing a book


  • Option 1: Large publishers have got the best sales and marketing capabilities. It's much easier being considered for book reviews with a high visibility. If your book sells well during the first three to six month, large publishers will channel additional marketing money and your chances will increase even further. So were's the catch? Well, far less than 1% of all submissions will get accepted. Finding a literary agent willing to take you on is even harder. Many publishers only accept submissions handled through an agent. So if you want to go for this option, you need a lot of patience and you should not get discouraged by rejection letters. Very often the quality of a book and the literary talent of a writer gets overlooked, because most publishers looks at a book from a purely commercial point of view. If you are Boris Becker or David Beckham and wrote a book, publishers are very interested, because potential customers in bookstores will recognize the name. So if you're not so well known you still should keep trying. Eventually you could get lucky winning the lottery and a large publisher will offer you a contract
  • Option 2: Small publishers might be easier to approach, especially when your book's genre is quite unique. For a non-fiction book this works even better, if you're one of the few subject matter experts of a new trend, a new topic, or a hot controversial debate. In general, however, the low submission acceptance rate is more or less the same as for any of the large publishers: not even 1%. And you have to understand that for a small publisher the financial risk is even greater for a potentially unsuccessful book. So they've got to be very selective during the manuscript selection process
  • Option 3: Over the recent years self-publishing has become a quite successful alternative. You will found your own little company and manage the whole process yourself. This of course involves financial investments. For a high-quality book you need to hire a professional editor and a cover art designer. You need consulting about the typesetting and the printing process. There's also significant administrative work involved for issues such as copyright handling, ISBN registration, listings with book wholesalers, online stores and so forth. Print on demand makes the actual sales process quite flexible. All of the revenues (except for the printing cost) will go to you and does not have to be shared with any publisher. That's what it makes quite attractive for a lot of aspiring writers. There's an excellent book by Dan Poynter called the Self-Publishing Manual. The paperback is available for less than $15. Again, a very good investment. Keep in mind, that a considerable amount of time will be necessary to set this up. If you don't have the time, you might want to consider the next option
  • Option 4: Full-service self-publishing is a model that requires further investments on your part than the previous option, because you do not only obtain editing and printing services, but also the overall coordination process. There are a few successful publishers in this segment with a good reputation. They have a proper submission process and on the average they accept about 20% of the submitted manuscripts. Now 20% is a lot better than 1%, but this system still filters out low quality work. The publisher is interested in high quality, because royalties are shared. There are different models for this and the the author share might range from 20 up to 50%. This means that the publisher is interested in high volume sales and will carry out a reasonable marketing effort. If your books sells well, say several thousand copies the first year, it's actually possible to to move from option 4 to options 1 or 2. Sometimes publishers approach the writers if there's enough buzz around your book (see book promotion). At some point you can also approach a larger publisher of your choice
  • Option 5: Stay away from the so-called vanity publishers! They will accept any submitted manuscript and print it, no matter how poor the quality. There's a large one time fee and no professional editing, typesetting and cover art design. Such publishers basically just forward your electronic copy to a print shop and charge a lot of money for doing so
  • Okay, you've settled for one of the first four options, what comes next? Marketing and book promotion!
  • Regardless of the publisher you're working with (expect option 5), you need to complement the publisher's marketing efforts with your own book promotion campaign. Even bestselling author hire their own consultants, who run the book promotion campaign for them
  • If you decide to develop your own marketing strategy, perhaps the next page can offer you some useful tips

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