Many people have dreamed of writing the great American novel. Few people actually do it because, well, it’s a ton of work and even harder to get published.
These days, you can release your indie book on Amazon but don’t count on selling any copies. The age of publishing isn’t over, not by a long shot. I’ve talked to many indie authors and I’ve yet to meet one whose book outsold Destiny’s Embers. Not because my book was better but because Random House was my publisher and they did a lot of work to make sure my book got well marketed and well distributed.
But being published can also come with a high price that most people don’t realize. My manuscript for Destiny’s Embers came in at about 100,000 words. Random House’s editors added over 30,000 words to it, mostly internal dialog for characters but also changes to the plot.
Since my day job isn’t being an author, the changes to my book bothered me because even to this day, I don’t feel like it’s my book. But that is the price that authors often face, if they lack literary clout, if they want to be published. That’s not to say I don’t like how the book turned out, it’s just that it’s not the book I had dreamed and set out to write.
With the loss of physical retail stores, the clout of traditional publishers continues to decline. But publishers still matter. Here are things to keep in mind:
- Don’t let the publisher hijack your novel. By hijack I mean don’t let them change the story to the point that you don’t feel it’s not your novel.
- A good publisher should provide good, quality editors who can help you find your voice and bring out the best in your story. They should be the voice of sanity (“Hey, take out the love scene with the Orc, please…it’s not related to the story”)
- The role of the publisher is to take your book and make sure it is read and enjoyed by as many people as possible. That means marketing, distribution, setting you up for interviews, PR, book tours, etc.
- Don’t expect your first manuscript to be the final word on the topic. The manuscript is your raw vision of the story. A good publisher will help you find the core elements of your story and make them shine.