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 Getting Published

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Lora
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PostSubject: Getting Published   Sat Mar 17, 2012 8:07 pm

Getting Published

How to Find a Publisher and Get My Book Published

Web Site where article can be found.

Everything I wrote in this article when it was first published remains true today, with one important exception. When it was written, I was looking back on my goal of the mid-1990's to become a trade published author, believing that's what all writers want to achieve. And I succeeded in that goal, eventually selling well over 100,000 books through McGraw-Hill, not to mention translations into Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Spanish and more. But selling out to McGraw-Hill turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes of my publishing career. Why? Because at that time, and over the past fifteen years, a popular website has proven more valuable than a popular book, and in signing a contract with McGraw-Hill, I had to give up my rights to updating my website for a decade.

These days, self publishing eBooks, especially on Amazon Kindle, has become a better alternative than getting published through a trade for most titles. There are exceptions for books in the bestseller realm, but trade publishers are increasingly finding those titles in the ranks of self published Kindle eBooks, and those authors are getting better deals as a proven quantities than they would have gotten with an agent as a unpublished writers. It's also telling how many authors, in genres from fiction to the practical how-to books I write these days, have turned down trade contracts because self publishing is both more profitable and more fun. If you decide that you're interested in finding readers online, see my website building material specifically for authors.

Now for the original article about how to find a publisher for your book, if you still want to do that:-)

Imagine sending a query letter offering an unfinished manuscript to eight publishers and getting back four positive responses within the week. How about having the managing editor of a major imprint contact you out of the blue asking if you have a publisher for your work? These may sound like scenarios from an advertisement in a writer's magazine intended to separate you from your money, but they actually happened for this writer, thanks to the Internet.

Why publish on the Internet

The vast majority of writers today have exchanged their typewriters for personal computers, but their sole focus remains that double-spaced manuscript that gets sent off to New York City with a SASE. That's a shame, because by simply skipping down an extra item in the File menu of your word processor, you can save that document as HTML, a form ready for instant publication on the Internet. "Why should I give my work away for free?" you argue, "What if somebody steals it?"

As an unpublished writer, getting people to read your work and respond to it is the primary challenge. After all, you need to convince the editors or agents you contact that you really know your market, but how can you actually do that if your market has never heard of you? Whether you are writing plumbing books or poetry, there is an audience for your work on the Internet, and if you can fix their leaky hearts, some of them will send e-mail to let you know how much they appreciate you. The main pay-offs of web publishing for the unknown writer are reader feedback and traffic (visitors to your site).

Testimonial e-mails from visitors to your site can carry real weight with an acquisitions editor. In fact, my publisher used excerpts from nine such letters as a marketing tool on the back cover of my first published book, "The Hand-Me-Down PC." Feedback from web surfers is valuable for another reason; this audience isn't tied to you by friendship or by blood. Any criticism is useful because these people ARE your market, and compliments from Mom are rarely as uplifting as praise from complete strangers. Traffic on your site can be used as a form of proof that you do have an audience, and even more importantly for smaller publishers, that you know how to promote yourself. By the way, a copyright is a copyright, so if somebody does plagiarize your work, take it as a compliment and threaten to sue.



What to put on your site

Building a web site really is something that anybody can do. There are many good reasons to host your site on a commercial server for no more than $10 per month, but the main point is to get started. Unlike paper publishing, web publishing is flexible by its very nature. If you make a spelling mistake, want to change something you said, add a picture, or even close down the site, you can do it instantly any time of day or night!

The critical components (2 C's) for any web site are content and contact - content is the work you want people to see and contact is the means through which they can react to it, normally e-mail. We stated earlier that it only takes one click of the mouse to save your manuscript in web format, but you may want to produce material specifically targeted for web. Many people who surf the web are looking for answers, so if you are writing non-fiction, you might offer to answer e-mailed questions on your subject for readers. This can take some time, but it will definitely teach you what your audience is interested in rather than what you think they are interested in, and this "hands-on" experience really carries weight with editors.

For example, back in 1995 I signed up for a $14.95/month Internet account with a national service that was later acquired by AOL. Learning that it came with space for a web site, I posted a short guide titled "Troubleshooting and Repairing Clone PCs" which I had already written for some co-op students I had trained and basically had lying around on the hard drive. My primary motivation in posting the computer material was to attract people to come and read the short fiction and poetry I also posted on the site. People who didn't find an answer to their problem but who thought I might be able to help them began sending me questions, and recognizing that this was "content," I began adding a new question and answer to the web site each night. This section of the site, titled "The Midnight Question," became the most popular draw during the years that I maintained it, and had a large number of repeat visitors. That original short guide and the material from the "Midnight Question" became the core of my first published book.

Many journalists now depend the Internet for material to fill out their articles, and the questions and answers I posted on my site brought me two generous helpings of free publicity. The first was a front-page story in The Investor's Business Daily which described me as a "Digital Age Dear Abbey" and the second was an interview and link on the Dateline MSNBC site which sent my site 10,000 visitors in a single day. These cases may be extreme, but I continue to receive regular exposure in both online and traditional publications due to material I have posted online.

When it comes to fiction and poetry, you have little choice other than to publish whole works on the web. But you find a publisher for your book, you'll want to retain control over the website so you can do updates and keep in contact with your readers in case th publishing deal isn't what you dreamed. There are some documented cases of individuals who began by web publishing a novel, responded to reader demand for books by self publishing and eventually landed real publishing contracts. Publishing fiction and poetry on the Internet is less likely to bring an unknown author the kind of instant exposure that can result from a well planned information site, but the feedback, when it comes, is all the more welcome for that reason. The better route for fiction is blogging for exposure and publishing eBooks on Kindle, which leverages Amazon's platform. But the modest successes I've experienced with fiction on the web, like having a short story picked up for a printed Zine or adopted onto a genre site, have worked wonders for my bruised fiction ego.

Once I got an e-mail from a guy with a corporate return address asking if I could send him my online novel, which was then posted in twenty-six individual HTML documents, as a Word file. I wrote back asking why he wanted the novel in Word format when he could already get it in any web browser and he replied, "Nothing sinister, I'm reading it at the office and if it's in Word, I can act like I'm working."

I've trimmed this article down from the original since I've written a whole eBook specifically for author websites that supersedes that information.

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God Bless, Lora  Nice Ta Meet Ya
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