Publishing is Collaborative
Yesterday evening, the Tel Aviv Writer's Salon held a gathering to discuss the various publishing options: self, hybrid or traditional. But even within those three categories there are other categories, like self-assisted publishing and self-DIY publishing. There are also small press publishers, many of which will accept unagented manuscripts. There are at least fifty shades of gray in the publishing world.
So much information is out there and the publishing industry is changing very swiftly. We discussed the "digital-first" model, which even some of the top five publishers (Penguin Random House, Simon and Schuster, Hachette, HarperCollins and MacMillan) have adopted, which is to make your book available in digital format initially, to float the book, and see how it does. A subject we didn't have time to touch upon is the crowd-funding model, that platforms like InkShares provides. If you'd like to learn more, Google "crowd-funded publishing". Here is a site offering a number of videos about crowd funding books for example.
During the class someone asked me for an overview of the publishing industry and this is what I said: Print is dead, print is not dead, ebooks are the THING, ebooks are dead, audio books are the THING, audiobooks are dead - it just goes on and on. It is entirely possible to go down this rabbit hole infinitely and spend hours growing more and more anxious and despairing.
There are some truths: Content is in demand and is evolving. Nothing beats a good story, well told. Writing is solitary but publishing is collaborative.
There has never been a time when more resources for writing and writers have been as easily accessible than right now. Use the Google. Become informed and involved with the publishing industry (be it self or traditional and everything in-between) and with other writers. You need a community. And yes, it takes time - all of this does. There is no substitute yet invented to replace investing your time and the elbow grease that goes with getting behind your writing.
My corner of the publishing world is primarily developmental editing. I believe that a good story, well told is the number one priority. But the thundering silence that can arrive after the book is done can feel like quite a let down for a writer. What comes next? Most writers turn a special shade of green when I talk about being the "evangelist" for your book, or "branding" yourself, or using social media.
Please remember that you don't have to do all of this at once and make it your lifestyle. Take baby steps. Create a very simple website for yourself. Get a Twitter account. Follow writers, agents or topics that you relate to and that are connected to your work. Check out Publisher's Weekly, or any number (and there are hundreds if not thousands) of writer resources online. Click from link to link, and give sites a once-over. The Fabulists frequently features sites that are excellent resources.
Set aside 2 or 4 hours each week to look at the "business" side of your writing. Bookmark pages. Join forums. See what's going on. Become informed about the world you wish to enter. It's a process; you don't have to become an expert overnight. Go to writing groups IRL. Comment on posts by or for writers, leave book reviews on Goodreads. Check out PitchWars. If you feel you need to work on your craft, there are online classes available from a number of sources, Catapult being one of many. And read. Always be reading. Who else is publishing and how can you support them as you'd like them to support you?
You don't have to tackle this all at once and most all of us have our "day jobs", that thing we do that pays the bills. So naturally, this is all extra time - on top of trying to find the time to write. See what works for you. Maybe you pick one morning a week to look at resources, chat, join, review, etc. Or maybe one hour a day you do this. Or once a month. Do what fits into your lifestyle.
By having a large body of work that you've completed, you are way ahead of the game, but that doesn't mean that you can't be submitting short stories or poems to literary journals while working on a novel, while boning up on the publishing industry.
Nobody said this was easy. But you are not alone. Prioritize finding or creating and nurturing a community of writers to remind you of that.
Here is a list of resources that I use and trust. I am sorry they are not linked, just cut and paste into your browser's search function and check it out. These resources are a mixture of craft, indie publishing, traditional publishing, querying and agent search information, so they are not categories but I do have a brief description next to each.
Absolute Write (Forums, advice)
Alexa Donne (Youtube: a fountain of great videos about publishing, mostly traditional)
Alliance of Independent Writers and www.selfpublishingadvice.org
Author’s Publish (Huge number of resources across the board)
Book Connectors (FB group; great for self-publish)
Book Marks (Reviews, trends)
Community of Literary Magazines (Submission tips, info and market)
Duotrope (Hive-mind markets and agent responses and trends)
Electric Literature (Trends, literary)
GoodReads (Reviews, trends, lists, network)
Jane Friedman’s Resources for Writers (Self and Hybrid. The. Best. Ever.)
Kindlepreneur.com and on Youtube, same title (Self publishing, marketing, great advice)
Manuscript Academy (Classes, podcasts, agents for traditional publishing)
Manuscript Wishlist (Ditto but updated constantly)
Medium (Great place to get your writing out there, create connections)
New Pages Guide to Literary Magazines (Markets, tips)
Published to Death (Fantastic advice: traditional publishing)
Publisher’s Lunch (Resources, trends, sales, traditional publishing)
Publisher’s Marketplace (ditto)
Publisher’s Weekly (ditto)
Query Tracker (Submission management)
Submittable (Submission management; literary/poetry journals)
The Bookseller (UK sales/market)
Twitter (where ALL the agents live; check #mswishlist)
Writer Beware (Updated frequently, looks archaic. Selfpublishingadvice.org has a better recommend/warn list but still)
Writer’s Market (Market listings, submission tracking)