Writing Wednesday: Why I’m not looking for a publisher

Why I'm not looking for a publisherWhen you start out, it’s every writer’s dream to have your novel accepted by a publisher.

Then you learn that some publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts, so instead you dream of getting an agent. But really, the dream is the same – you want somebody to say your writing is good enough to publish.

For years, struggling writers have shopped their manuscripts around from one place to another, collecting rejection slips and despair. Then came ebooks.

Now you can write something, convert it, slap on a cover, and put it up on Amazon or any number of other ebook sellers. The trouble is, there are no gate-keepers to ensure the quality of what is put out. There are no big publicity machines either to let the world know about your book.

So the allure of the publisher remains. It’s very attractive to think you can hand your manuscript over and a whole machine will get into motion to ensure it reaches a high standard in writing, design and, most importantly, the cover.

But you still have to persuade a publisher to accept it.

More and more authors – even long-established ones – are taking back control over their books.

Yes, you have to pay your own editor to ensure the manuscript is a good standard. Yes, you have to get your own cover – find someone who will produce a really good cover for love or money. Yes, you have to do your own publicity and marketing, but all publishers today expect authors to take an active part in marketing today anyway.

But you do get complete control.

You can look on these things you have to do yourself as a burden or an opportunity. Yes, they take time and effort, and sometimes money. But you have total control. I have heard of authors who clashed with their editor over the direction they wanted to take the story. I have heard of authors who hated the cover the publisher provided. I will have none of that. My editor works for me and there is no publishing contract in danger if I refuse to take her advice. My novel will be exactly what I want it to be and my cover will be the design I choose.

Another factor is time.

I understand it can take a year or even two from acceptance of your manuscript to publishing the book. Although I have to sort out my own editing, cover etc, once I decide the book is ready it takes a few minutes to submit it to Kindle or Smashwords. It takes a few hours for them to process it and then it’s on sale. Smashwords can take a day or two to ship it to all the distribution channels but then it’s on sale everywhere.

The final reason is money.

A publisher will pay you a small percentage of every sale, once you have covered your advance. The ebook distributors pay up to 70% on every sale. Ebooks are priced much lower than print books, but because of that you’re liable to sell more, so it definitely works out a better deal.

I would very much like someone to tell me my book is good enough to publish. But, after a lot of research and thought, I’ve decided I should have faith in my own work – or why continue? I will make it the very best I can, I will pay an editor and a cover designer, and then I will publish it myself, promote it myself, and let the readers decide.


About Ann Marie Thomas

Married since 1974, Christian since 1986, 4 children, 4 grand children, disabled with fibromyalgia but was working almost full time until a stroke in May 2010 changed my life completely. Writing poetry and making up stories since I was a child, I only started to write seriously when my children were grown. My main ambition is to write science fiction, but along the way I got distracted by local history and poetry about my stroke. Taking early retirement gave me the chance to concentrate on my writing. My book, Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth, was published in print and ebook at Easter 2012. The success of Alina led to the publication of Broken Reed: The Lords of Gower and King John in September 2013, and The Magna Carta Story at Easter 2015. I am still writing science fiction - a series of novels called Flight of the Kestrel. For all my author news, see me author blog at www.annmariethomas.me.uk
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4 Responses to Writing Wednesday: Why I’m not looking for a publisher

  1. Beverley says:

    Hi Ann Marie,
    Thank you for thinking out loud about publishing. Your article has touched my heart and I found it very encouraging. I have completed a book and want to get it publish but I do not know how to make the first move or where to start.

    As you said the traditional publishers will not accept manuscript from unknown writers and so I would need to self publish and do most of the work. However, I discovered that many self publishers are a rip off and I have absolutely no money to waste.

    I was thinking of publishing with Create Space on Amazon but is reluctant to do so. Can you give me some advice on the best place to self publish. I would like to publish both hard copies and ebooks. You mentioned Smashwords but I am not familiar with them.
    Your advice will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


    • Hi Beverley
      Congratulations on finishing your book! Let me say to start with, that you can go down the traditional publishing route if you want to. There are publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts, and you can try to interest an agent, who will help you with your book and contact publishers for you.

      If you want to self-publish, I wrote a series of guides you might find useful. Go to my Writing page on the menus above, and you’ll find links to them at the bottom of the page. I explain in there about Smashwords, but basically they will convert your book to all the ebook formats and distribute it to all the major retailers, whereas Amazon just do Kindle.

      If there’s anything else I can help you with, my contact details are on my About Me page. Good luck, and don’t give up!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beverley says:

    Thank you Ann Marie. I will keep you informed


  3. Pingback: Writing Wednesday: 2015 Writing Roundup | Ann Marie Thinking Out Loud

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