You are interested in putting your book out into the world, but not sure how to get a book published? Then you are in the right place! After writing two bestselling books about personal finance for women with a third on the way, I know the ins and outs of how to publish a book. I’ll dive into your publishing options, plus share more about my author journey.
Why write a book
If you are considering writing a book, there are many valid reasons to start the journey. You may want to build credibility in your chosen niche, accomplish a life goal from your childhood, or use your book as a tool to expand your current audience.
Whatever your reasons for writing a book, the goal should be to solve a problem for the reader. Whether you want to help them escape into an amazing novel or navigate their own personal finance journey, writing a book can be a fulfilling journey for authors across all genres.
How to get a book published
Once you have an idea for your book, you'll need to go from the idea to publication. Although it can be tricky to learn how to get a book published, the good news is there are many options to choose from.
Along the way, you'll need to find a publishing option that works for you and finish writing the book. As an author, you'll have to choose between traditional publishing and self-publishing. After that, you'll need to market your book appropriately. Let's get into the difference between self and traditional publishing.
Traditional publishing vs self-publishing
As a new author, you may not be familiar with the nuances between self-publishing and traditional publishing. However, it's a good idea to know how both work so you can make the best decision as to how you publish your book. Let’s take a closer look at both.
What is traditional publishing?
Traditional publishing is when you pursue a book deal with an established publisher in the industry. Be it a general publisher or a niche publisher, for instance, African American focused publishers. When you work with a traditional publisher, you will need to submit a manuscript. If a publisher likes your book, then you’ll have to sign a contract before moving forward.
With a traditional publisher, you won’t be tasked with promoting your book by yourself. Instead, you’ll have the resources and experience of a professional bookselling team through the publisher. These professionals might include editors and marketing assistance to get your book onto shelves around the world.
The drawbacks of working with a traditional publisher are that you may face low royalty rates and a loss of creative control. But you can combat this by thoroughly investigating the contract before signing on the dotted line. If you aren’t happy about a clause in the contract, then make sure to discuss this ahead of time.
What is self-publishing?
As a self-published author, you maintain more control over your books. You can keep full creative control and determine what formats your book is sold in. Additionally, you have the ability to hold on to higher royalties across most selling platforms. For example, Amazon will allow you to keep between 35 and 70% of the total sale price. There are also several other self-publishing platforms you can look into.
But with that increase of control and potential profits, you’ll find an increase in responsibility. As the author and the publisher, you’ll be required to put more time and effort into marketing your book. In fact, all of the promotion of your book will be reliant on your marketing strategies.
Beyond the time you’ll need to commit to promoting your book, you’ll also need to spend money upfront to create professional books. At a minimum, you’ll likely need money to hire an editor and other professionals to get your books to market.
Is self-publishing or traditional publishing right for you?
It is clear there are major differences between the self-publishing and traditional publishing routes. The choice will be entirely dependant on your unique feelings about the industry, your book, and your goals.
If you already have an audience, then self-publishing may be a good option. You can market the book to your audience and retain more of the profits. If you don’t have upfront resources to market your book or a built-in audience, then you might benefit from the help of a traditional publisher.
Consider what you are looking to accomplish with your books before moving forward. Don’t sign away the rights of your book without looking at the long-term. And don’t jump into self-publishing without the time or resources to commit to your book.
Why I went the traditional publishing route
Personally, I chose the traditional publishing route because of the opportunity it provided to expand the Clever Girl Finance brand on a broader scale. Self-publishing my books was definitely an option; Clever Girl Finance had a sizable audience and marketing on our own is something we are very comfortable doing as a company. This would however have come at a considerable cost.
Traditional publishing presented the opportunity for my books to be in major book and retails stores, included the audio recordings and I was able to negotiate dedicated PR support for promoting the books. Having a PR team to support a book's launch is a big deal especially since they can reach outlets and get media opportunities that you might not be able to get on your own.
All of these combined efforts allowed the books to have a more extended reach than I could have done on my own. At the end of the day, I'm glad I made this decision and have no regrets.
Negotiating your contract
In addition to negotiating PR support, I negotiated my advance, my royalties, and the details for the rights to my books amongst other things. I think it's incredibly important to see what you can negotiate in your contract. There's no harm in asking for a better deal even if the deal you get sounds amazing.
It's also very important to make sure that the contractual agreement you have with the publisher makes sense to you. It's worthwhile to have a lawyer in the publishing space review your contract especially if you have never had a publishing deal.
What to include in your book pitch for traditional publishing
If you decide to pursue the traditional publishing option, then you’ll need to pitch your book effectively. Without the right pitch, you may never get your book published. Luckily, you can draft a pitch for yourself. Make sure to include the following items:
Topic overview and vision for the book
What is your book all about and what is your vision for the book when you write it? Share a focused vision of what you want readers to gain from your book.
A working title
Provide a catchy and informative title, but stay open to changes and feedback. It's a good ideas to present two to three title options in your pitch. You also want to make sure you include a book subtitle as well.
An author bio
What makes you qualified to write this book? A brief background can help prove your credibility and really showcase who you are to potential publishers.
Sample table of contents
The table of contents should highlight the nitty-gritty of what you’ll include in the book. Plus, it should illuminate how you plan to organize your ideas. It will also give a sense of length.
A sample chapter can provide a taste of your writing style to get the publisher interested in your work. Many times, this is a requirement in order to submit a pitch. Even if it's not required, it's a good idea to include one so the publisher knows you are serious about your pitch.
Profile of your readers
Who is going to buy your book? If you have an established audience, share that information with the publisher. If you don’t have an audience, then consider which segment of the population would be interested in reading your book.
The demand expectations for your book
Is there a need for your book in the market? Let the publisher know why this book needs to be on shelves everywhere!
Competitive titles in the market
Are there books in a similar style that are selling well? Share these titles with your publisher along with the uniqueness your own title will bring to the market.
Bulk sales opportunities
Is your book an educational resource that could sell in bulk? Do you already have a relationship with a potential bulk buyer like schools, corporations, or organizations? Let the publisher know!
Plans to promote the book on your own
Let the publisher know what marketing you plan to do on your end to make your book a success. This lets the publisher accurately determine how much they’ll need to contribute to a successful launch.
It will take some time and planning to create a standout book pitch but it is totally worth it. Don’t rush through the process. Although it can be exciting to share your ideas, make sure to flesh out the details of your book before sending your pitch to agents or publishers.
Should you work with an agent to find a book deal or do it yourself?
In the traditional publishing world, it is very common to work with an agent. Instead of seeking out a book deal yourself, you can work with an agent to secure a book deal with a publisher. The help of an agent can be worthwhile. After all, the agents know the ins and outs of the traditional publishing industry and how to get a book deal. With their insider knowledge, you might have a better chance of securing an attractive deal.
However, working with an agent can be more expensive. If you are looking to cut costs, it is entirely possible to pitch your book without an agent. You may still find a publisher willing to offer you a book deal without an agent playing middle man.
Personally, I did not work with an agent. Instead, I got my publisher's attention by virtue of the size of the Clever Girl Finance audience and platform, which we had worked so hard to grow. I also leveraged my book pitch to create a compelling story as to why I was a great candidate to publish a book with them. If you are still growing an audience or don't have a business, I'd definitely recommend working with an agent. Working with an agent can be the catalyst when it comes to how to get a book published.
When selecting an agent, you want to make sure you work with someone who has the experience and you feel comfortable with pitching your work on your behalf. A great place to start with your agent search is by doing some initial research on literary agents.
The bottom line
If you want to write and publish a book, it is completely possible and you can get your book on the market. Whether you decide to self-publish or work with a traditional publisher, the end result is very similar. You’ll have a book with your heart and soul out into the world.
Now that you’ve learned how to get a book published, it’s time to start writing your book today!