Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mystery Loves Company, Part II


This is Kathy Harig again from Mystery Loves Company. As I said in my earlier Blog 1, writing the book is just the beginning. It is a business. You may think it is early in your writing career to think of publishing, but if you are aware of the pitfalls and means to success, you will have a better chance of seeing your work published. There are four key people in the equation for writing a successful book -- the author, the agent, the editor(s) and the publisher. In recent days we have seen this list shrunk to two, the author and the publisher, due to self-publishing technology. Sometimes the author even does away with the publisher, entirely. But all good books, I believe have these four elements. More and more we see books that are grossly unedited and good ones that are badly distributed, i.e., do not reach a bigger market because they have a tiny publisher, or one who does not have the means nor care to really promote their authors' works. If the author had gotten him/herself an agent, the problem probably wouldn't have been so severe. Agents are hard to come by, but there are several good listings on the web. Also attend mystery or fiction conventions, or writing seminars. Agents frequently attend.

Spell check does not an editor make. I have had several books published and each time the second or third reading, or editor always caught improvements that needed to be made. Fact checking is really up to you. Don't expect help with this at all in fiction. I recently received an advanced readers copy from a major publisher in which there were at least twenty errors in the first fifty pages. A badly edited manuscript will not get you an agent, and certainly won't get you a major publisher. Even with a major publisher, there are pot holes along the way. Respect your work and your audience. Do careful editing yourself, and hire a professional editor/ fact checker and/or reader. Then let the manuscript rest for a while, and read it again, and again.

Choosing a publisher is one of the biggest decisions an author can make. Choosing the wrong one, can lead to heartbreak and a ruined career. Choosing carefully can insure that your work will find its broadest possible audience and the success it deserves. One can hardly count the number of publishers that have sprung up on the web. Remember one thing, if you have to pay a publisher to publish your work, they are not a publisher. Many of them are not reputable, and can ask for more and more money that you eventually will give them, only to end in disaster. Mystery Writers of America has approved a list of publishers that they find reputable. Check with them if you have any doubt. The other reason to go with an approved publisher is the need for wide distribution of your work. Small publishers are not normally linked to broad networks and distributing companies that market and distribute your work.

In choosing a fiction or mystery publisher, look at your favorite mystery books. Who published them? Is your book going to have the same tone or sub-genre as they have. Then they might be a good bet for a author/publisher match.

If you intend to make writing your career, understand the homework you have to do. It is a profession and a business. Place your posterior in the chair according to a schedule that suits you best, and when you are not writing or editing, take care of business.

Best in your writing careers,

Kathy Harig

1 comment:

Patricia said...


We writers need to be reminded that publishing is big business. If we want to see our book(s) on the shelf at the local bookstore we need to offer the best product we are capable of creating. I too have read many self-published books where the author has chosen not to hire a freelance editor. That decision is a poor one in my opinion. My advice to would-be authors is to get into a group, whether it is a local writers group or in a class where the opportunity to give and receive feedback exists. Thanks for the tips.