No one said getting your book published was easy. In fact, until the existence of self-publishing, it was one of the hardest things to do on earth (just ask any author who’s queried over 100 agents to represent their manuscript and come away empty-handed). It’s a brutal system, and rejection is woven into the seams of the publishing industry in general (whether it’s agents, editors of publishing houses or readers in the Amazon reviews, someone is going to tear your book apart). What’s so fantastic about self-publishing is that it allows you to bypass those gatekeepers concerned with bottom lines, and really get to your readers. They can be the ones to make the decision about whether your books’ plotlines are unique and compelling, the characters are nuanced, and if the world-building is vivid and thought-provoking. That’s not to say you shouldn’t invest in a professional editor, cover designer and formatter beforehand, readers want quality, regardless of whether a book is self-published or not. If you hire Midnight Publishing for any of your editing or ghostwriting needs, they’ll never know the difference! Contact us to discuss your project today.

I’m a huge advocate for self-publishing, don’t get me wrong, and have been since its inception. However, there is much to be said about the pros and cons of both traditional publishing and self-publishing. Let’s explore those a little now:

Traditional Publishing

  • Receive an advance that can vary from a few thousand dollars to half a million dollars. (Don’t expect to see another dollar after that, though, unless your book “earns out” its advance—only a possibility for breakout hits.)
  • Very limited decisions about design (if any).
  • Possibility for a widespread marketing campaign.
  • Connections to well-respected publishing outlets.
  • Invites to book signings and conventions.
  • Books on shelves in stores.

Self-Publishing

  • Payment is required for everything up front in regards to editing, cover design, formatting, etc., but you get to decide your price point, your royalty rate and receive royalties on your book indefinitely (and you retain your copyright!).
  • More freedom, more control, less money in the beginning.
  • Must do all your own marketing or hire someone, and it’s often a lot more difficult to reach news outlets and media for marketing coverage.

Both types of publishing have a plethora of benefits, but sometimes, traditional publishing is the way to go. It’s why I wanted to share some of the advice I’ve been told about what to keep in mind when you’re looking for a literary agent:

1. Choose a Literary Agent Who Understands Your Vision and is Probably Similar to You

You want to work with someone who understands where you’re coming from with your writing. That means that if you’re a middle-aged man who writes mysteries, you probably shouldn’t have a twenty-year-old female agent who represents mostly non-fiction. Even if an agent says they do represent your genre, it doesn’t mean they’ll align with what you’re trying to convey. Make sure you get each other as people before you get each other as author and agent.

2. Your Agent Doesn’t Represent One Book, They Represent You: Your Brand, Your Books, and Your Writing Career

If you’re querying a YA fantasy book, but you want to write an adult thriller next, you need to tell your prospective agent this up front. A literary agent doesn’t only represent your one book, they represent you (until you contractually agree to part ways). That means that if they’ve invested a lot of time and effort into selling your YA fantasy and they don’t have connections or interest in adult thrillers, they won’t try to sell it. It’s incredibly important to be detailed in discussing who you are as an author before you sign on with an agent and that they agree to give you the freedom to explore, grow, and change if you so desire. If they’re not comfortable with that, then keep looking.

3. How Many Revisions of Their Own Do They Require Before Subbing it Out to Publishers?

Some agents who agree to represent a manuscript will immediately begin subbing it out to potential publishers, while others will give you their requested revisions first. That means you could be getting a list of required revisions from an agent, and then when an editor agrees to buy it, the editor will send you another list of their own desired revisions. Revisions are not a bad thing, but it’s something you’ll want to clarify with your agent before you agree to have them represent you. Ask, “What’s your style when it comes to revising a manuscript before sending it out?” and make an informed decision on whether it feels like the right style for you.

Whether you’re self-publishing, looking to query a literary agent with your current manuscript, or still haven’t decided, Midnight Publishing is your go-to Phoenix-based company for all things editing and writing. Contact us today to find out why we’ve been trusted with over five million words and counting.