So you have written a beautiful manuscript and poured your energy and love into it. At this point, most first-time authors think they have finished their hard work — but the reality is, they are only near the beginning of their journey. It will be perilous and challenging, but if you plan well, ultimately rewarding.
Purchasing anything nowadays can be a scary process, particularly when you are entrusting your words and innermost thoughts in the form of your manuscript to someone you don’t know. Having been in sales over 20 years, I can safely say that if there is one thing that is consistent in sales, it is “if there is a service to be sold, there will always be salesmen to take your money”. Finding that perfect fit for you in a sea of salesmen and businesses can be daunting.
What do I want? The biggest mistake that most consumers make when starting their journey into purchasing is not having a clear idea of what it is they exactly want. They head into the stores and trust that the salesman will be able to help them figure that out for them – riiiiight. Have you ever decided to leave your house for the day and just hop into your car and hope that it will just drive you somewhere that you may or may not want to go? You’ll get about as far trying to get a salesman to do the driving in the store as well.
In the world of self-publishing, this concept can be downright deadly! In conventional retail you at least have the benefit of being able to physically touch and examine a product. Publishing packages are sold on the reputation of the company and the promise of services yet to come. You can do plenty of research on the company, but in the end, it is you who needs to determine what is a good fit for your manuscript. You need to be prepared and have clear idea of what you are looking for in a publisher. Here are a few things that should make the top of any prospective author’s list before they head out on the “ self-publishing shopping trip”:
Reputation: Do an internet search on your prospective business partner. You will be self financing the production of your new book. Be careful who you sign over your hard earned money to. Use the power of the internet to source out any complaints and gather feedback on the self-publisher. Make an informed decision.
Timing: Can this publishing company deliver the finished product in a time line that meshes with your own marketing agenda? Ask the questions and be specific on what is required of you in order to meet those timelines. When the process starts, there will a certain amount of responsibility on yourself to ensure that you are proofing and delivering your materials to the production team in order for them to meet your deadlines.
Effective Communication (ie. that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you call and talk to the person on the phone): Having a clear path of communication to your liaison is very important. In conventional retail, you can always just go and grab a random clerk, getting him to ring up your purchase and you’re done. Your salesman in a retail store is a commodity and can easily be replaced by any one of the other 500 “sharks” standing behind him, waiting to get your money. In self-publishing, you are dealing over the phone and need to establish a firm relationship in each of the stages you are working through. If you call back the salesman after an initial conversation and consistently get his/her voicemail or never have your phone calls returned, that should be a major red flag. Language barriers are also something to be aware of, especially if you or they are being misunderstood every time you speak. All it takes is a minor misunderstanding and your final product could suffer as a result — so be clear with your goals and expectations from the start.
Congrats! You are now on your way to the next steps in your publishing adventure!