You've just signed with a literary agent who can't wait to pitch your book proposal
to a hot list of mainstream publishers. And if they like it? Your agent will do a
book auction and those publishers will bid for your book. How thrilling is that?
And whether the advance is large or small, you can stroll through Borders or Barnes
& Noble knowing that in a year and a half, your book will be on the shelf.
A year and a half?
That’s right.Of course,itcouldbe soonerifyou'vecompletedmostofthebook.Butifyourbookis non-fiction, youor youragentneededabookproposaltosellittoapublisher.Theproposalusually contains a couple of sample chapters, but
if that's all you have, now you've got to write the rest of book. Your editor at
the publishing house will give you a deadline, often from6-12 months (or more),
so factor in that time.
Ifyourbookisfiction,you’veprobablyfinishedit,becausemostagentsandeditorsliketoseethe completedmanuscriptinsteadofaproposal.Butwhetherfictionornon-fiction,onceyou'vefinishedthe book, you need time to work with your editor,
and that can take months. Then, there's production time, soaddanother3-6months,dependingonyourpublisher’sbackload.Areyoustartingtoseewhyitcan take up
to two years, fromthe time you start lookingfor agents or publishers, until thetime you actually see your book in the storeor on Amazon?
Still, the wait may be worth it, because when you go mainstream, everything’s free:
free editorial guid- ance, free cover design and production, and free distribution
to bookstores nationwide.
But what if you don’t want to wait that long?
In that case, self-publishing may be the best choice for you. It’s instant gratification,
and these days print-on-demand (POD) printers and publishers, e-books, Kindle and
a variety of online self-publishing resources have made the old-style "vanity press"
obsolete. Pre-POD, you had to place huge orders for cartons of books that often ended
up as makeshift furniture in your living room. Contrast that with today's affordable
self-publishing, where you can order just a few copies at a time.
But wait: If you self-publish, you've got a huge problem called “distribution,” right?
True. But with a great website and blog, a virtual book tour, and other online campaigns,
you can do a lot to publicize your work. Canyougetintobookstores?Maybe.Youcanhireaprivatedistributororpitchbookstoresyourself,but the bigchains arenot hugefansofself-publishedbooks,sogood distribution isone ofthe bestreasons