Questions & Answers

How to Get Published


How to Get Published


I am often asked, "What does it takes to get a book published and into the stores?"

With over 60,000 new books published a year and thousands that aren't, you can imagine how competitive the literary marketplace is. However, with a solid book, plan, determination, and some patience, getting a book into the marketplace can be done.

As an alternative route, some opt to self-publish. What is self-publishing?
It is the business of getting your manuscript converted into a saleable book.

I can say that self-publishing is an intense business undertaking. It was the perfect way for me to get Nobody's Perfect in the marketplace and be able to sell nearly 20,000 copies. However, self-publishing is not the ideal solution for everyone. The information I am providing is only a snapshot of the publication process. In order to do your project justice, you need to read, research, and think the effort through before proceeding. On a limited basis, my husband and I do provide consulting services for some self-published authors. Whatever route you pursue, I wish you as much support and success as I have experienced.

Be Blessed. ----- Patricia Haley

  Question Answer
01 How does a book get published? Three primary ways:
Self publish
Get a deal with a publishing house
Work with a small press / 3rd party vendor
02 What is the difference between the publishing methods? a) Self-publishing means that the author takes on the full responsibility of packaging, marketing, promoting, and selling the book. The tasks include editing, typesetting, laying out pages, obtaining the proper registrations (copyright, cataloging block, International number, Library of Congress #), setting a publication date, designing the cover, choosing a title, creating a press release, securing distributors and booksellers, setting discount rates, creating ad and promotional merchandise layouts, setting up a promotional tour with media events, shipping out books, creating invoices, maintaining inventory, securing a company name, filing quarterly taxes, handling accounts receivables and payables, and managing finances, all for starters.
Sounds like a lot, well it is and more.

b) Getting a deal with a publishing house usually means getting a literary agent to represent you first. This method is the traditional route. Although it may not be as much work as self-publishing, the amount of effort required should not be taken lightly. It may take months, even years, before an author is able to secure a deal.

c) Choosing a small press / 3rd party vendor might be an alternative to taking on all the risk related to self-publishing and the challenge associated with finding an agent / publisher.

How much money is associated with each of the aforementioned methods:

Publishing Method

Money You Pay

Money You Receive


Self-publishing $5,000 - $15,000 for local / regional sales

$15,000+ for national

(Note: These are only estimates to give you an idea. The plan you create will determine your actual costs.)

Very little. You will need to give stores a 40% discount and distributors 55%. Out of the remaining 45-60%, you have to pay for printing, promoting, shipping, operating, etc. Maintain complete control of title, content, sales, positioning, and promotion.

If done well, this can lead to a much better book deal for subsequent works

Requires a substantial amount of time and money.

Limited distribution channel

Book deal with a publisher Typically you have to pay your agent 10% - 20% of the advance &/or royalties you get from the publisher. **Standard deal for a new unknown author = 15% royalties on book sales, with a $25,000 advance
(see text below)
No cash outlay. Have more free time to write without having to worry about running the business end. Have limited control of the final book and how it is marketed & promoted.
Small press /
3rd party vendor/
Supply on demand
I am not well versed in this area. However, check out
1. Milligan Books


3. Black Words
% of book sales based on the rate you negotiate Free to focus on writing & promoting, without having to worry about the business side. Minimal cash outlay, if any at all. Dependent upon someone else to push the book and to get your money from the stores & distributors.

** The advance and royalty terms can be confusing. The following example should help you better understand the payment component of a book deal.

Deal: Hard back title, 15% royalties on sales, $25,000 advance, $22 retail price/ book
If your agent gets 15%, then they get $3,750 of the advance, leaving you $21,250.

Now that you have a check for $21,250, what next?? You have to earn back the advance. For each book sold, you will get 15% of the $22 retail price = $3.30. That means you will need to sell 7,575 hardback copies in order to cover the $25,000 advance payment you received. After your advance has been satisfied, then royalties from any additional book sales will be paid to you. Payments are generally made several times a year.

Note: Since trade paperbacks net a 7½% royalty, you need to sell more copies to earn back the advance.

03 What does it take to self-publish a book? The five key factors necessary for successful self-publishing are having:

a business plan
financial resources
much available time
a strong support group
deep-rooted determination

If you lack any of these factors, self-publishing might not be the recommended publishing vehicle for you.

04 What tips can you give a self-publisher? Don't rush the project ahead of the plan and resources. Sure an author is excited when he/she completes the manuscript and can be anxious about getting the book out. Take your time. A well-planned and executed project is far better than an inadequate rush job. You only get one chance to make a first book impression.

Don't compromise quality. It takes money to get a book published properly. Don't cut corners with a cover designer or with a printer if you want the book to compete with the other 100,000+ books found in a store. You want the book to stand out on the shelf just like one produced by a major publishing house. No one likes a book that looks "homemade".
05 How detailed does the business plan have to be? Writing abilities has nothing to do with the business side of publishing.

The business plan is your roadmap through a very challenging process. It should include the following components:

Marketing (Standard 4 P's)
1product (hardback or paperback and who is the target audience)
2 price (comparable to similar books)
3 place (who will distribute)
4 publicity & promotion

Operations - Office set-up, storage/shipping plan

Finances - Budgeting, A/P, and A/R

06 If I decide not to self-publish, how difficult is it to get my book out through a major publishing house? Finding an agent isn't easy, but it is far less expensive than the cost of self-publishing. Total cash outlay for manuscript copies and postage associated with sending query letters is under well $500. (For a list of agents and publishers, see books like Writers Guide and Literary Marketplace.)

You want to send out letters frequently for as long as you need to secure a deal and/or agent. Find an agent or publisher who is enthusiastic about your work and cut a deal. Caution: Don't jump on the first deal. Wait and evaluate the offers and make a sound decision.

Determination - there's that word again.

In actuality, no matter which route you take to get published, the best factor in your favor is the belief you have in your work. No one is going to champion your book project better than you. Never become too relaxed and dependent. Even if a major publishing house represents you, you still need to promote and support your own work. Besides, who understands the book better than you do? I wish you much success.

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