Your manuscript is finished, proofed, edited, re-written, and ready for publication.   Now, you are an author in desperate need of a publisher.

You can hope that one of the Legacy Publishing Houses or traditional publishers will buy your book or you can self-publish your book through some printer or through a self-publishing company.  Legacy Publishing and Self-Publishing each has advantages and disadvantages.


To attract a Legacy Publisher, the author almost always requires the hiring of a literary agent who has developed contacts to interest the right editor at several Legacy Publishers.  Obtaining a literary agent is the first hard step, since this person must invest time, talent, favors in representing the author for a 15% interest in the author’s work and wants the certainty of a successful venture.  Now, only surefire winners will be accepted by the literary agent, meaning first-time authors and non-celebrity authors have little chance.

Two ways to find a literary agent:   1) meet one at a Writers’ Conference, or 2) send a query about your book to the literary agent’s office.   Hordes of literary agents, all looking for fresh meat, descend upon the throngs of authors at Writers’ Conferences where literary agents listen to a ten-minute oral pitch from a writer hopeful for a score.

Sending a query (a short synopsis of your book) and a letter to perhaps several literary agents means that each literary agency will shuffle through 2,000 or more queries each month, all looking for an interesting snapshot that the literary agent might sell to an editor at one of the Legacy Publishers.

“Selling” your book to an editor at a Legacy Publisher means also “selling” your book to the editor’s committee at the Legacy Publisher and, more importantly, “selling” your book to the marketing department at the Legacy Publisher.

Success means that you will receive a monetary advance, the amount of which is conditioned on the predicted sales of your book.  In exchange, you will cede control over your work, such as editing, cover design, re-writing, marketing, distribution, etc.—depending on the terms of your publishing contract with the Legacy Publisher.  Before your book is available to the public (maybe as long as a year after the contract signing), the Legacy Publisher will send numerous copies to reviewers for a favorable review to insert in your published book.   Too many unfavorable reviews could mean the death knell for your book.

Your royalty percentage from the Legacy Publisher will probably be 10% to 12% of the net sales price, which means that the big book stores’  purchase price will be 50% of the retail sales price.  So, if Barnes & Noble, Costco, Wal-Mart sells your book at a retail price of $15.00 but buys it at 50% ($7.50) of the retail sales price, your 12% royalty is just 90 cents—$7.50 X 12% = 90 cents.

Recognize also that Book Stores’ tight shelf space ensures that a mere two months is the usual shelf-life expectancy of many books, after which the covers are ripped and returned to Legacy Publishers for credit.

Whether Legacy Publishers deliver quality workmanship, effective publish relations, and crackerjack marketing and distribution services depends on the identity of the Legacy Publisher.  Some do, but some don’t.

Now, you are ready for the New York Times Best Seller List.


Three or four years ago, the publishing world frowned on self-publishing authors as  “vanity” publishers.  But, then along came digital technology which allowed authors to immediately publish both print and e-books and capture a significant piece of the marketplace.

Self-publishing writers avoid the need for representation by literary agents and avoid the ultimate control by judgmental employees of Legacy Publishers over editing, marketing, pricing, and distribution of the writer’s work.  The legal rights of the book and the sales price of the book stay with the self-publisher author.

No doubt the sales of many self-published books plateau at a few hundred and never reach the shelves of any book-seller, instead stuck in the author’s garage or self-storage shed.  Yet, the on-line retailers and e-book distributors (like can push the self-published book to very successful marketing.

And sometimes the self-publishing author finds that the Legacy Publishers recognize that successful self-publishing author and come running with a very lucrative and more favorable book contract.

The self-publishing author in desperate need of a publisher will discover a world of self-publishing companies, some with just the ability to print the book while others offer a myriad of services— from cover design, editing, and marketing —to distribution.

Perhaps a local printer can do the job, with you learning the ins-and-outs of basic layout, formatting, cover design so as to save money.   Or, you can pay for this work by a self-publishing company to save you the time in learning the basic ropes.   Some of the more reputable self-publishing companies include  CreateSpace (an subsidiary), Xlibris, Lulu, Dog Ear, and Author Solutions–each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Self-publishers can print your book on demand in hardback, paperback, or in an e-book format ready for kindle, kindle fire, nook, or some other e-reader device.  In self-publishing, you set the sales price so that your royalty will be larger than the royalty from a Legacy Publisher.

If you decide to self-publish, be prepared to assume the job of marketing your book through every avenue known, no matter which self-publishing company you’ve selected.  Much of your time will be devoted to selling your book instead of writing.   Hopefully, very soon, your book will be on the New York Times Best Seller List.

Good luck on getting your book published.

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2 Responses to “GETTING PUBLISHED”

  1. John Langley March 31, 2014 at 7:05 am #

    Very interesting insight. This is helpful info that I will keep in mind, especially regarding the self-publishing route. Thanks.