So I have an idea for a novel/short what?

Let’s say, just for fun, that I might gasp actually want people to read it, so I’m sniffing around for do-it-yourself publishing advice. I don’t do workshops, I don’t want to take classes. I want to teach myself how to publish…while teaching myself how to write…and stuff. I’m willing to read one book (note to self…look for Publishing for Dummies) and as many decent websites (free) that you can throw at me. So if you have any recommended reading on the topic, shout it out. and (especially their forums). Why only one book? If you want to be a good writer, you should read lots of books, preferably of the genre you want to write in. Do you mean you only want to buy one book on writing? I think the one most people like the best is Stephen King’s writing book, but I haven’t read it personally.

Publishing I can’t help you with. I’m a writer, not a business person, and publishing is the business side of writing. But you might look into a legitimate self-publishing house like, if you don’t want to go to the trouble of trying to sell your work to a commercial publisher. Your chances of making much money are extremely slim, though.

I meant that I’m willing to read one “How to be published” type book.

Well, you’re in luck on the writing part. November is the National Novel Writing Month 2005 (SDMB thread) and their website.

ATM I frequent, where they do have some publishing areas. They do have “Agent Quest” and “Marketing Report” boards; however, you need to be signed in to access them. To warn you, the site design is atrocious, and takes a week just to get used to…just there is so much stuff. After you’re signed in, [from the into page] go to the top right corner and hit site generated lobby. The two forums I mentioned are near the bottom. If you want a shorter page, on the 2nd brown line after the top black part, hit classic view.

It takes a long, long time to get used to, but it is worth it.


There are no shortcuts: you need to research and work hard to be publishable. Do a lot of reading, especially in the genre you’re writing in. Once you have that, you can begin working on the story.

Next, write the story down. Even if it’s no good, the process will help you in the long run. Do a first draft without worrying about the little things; you want to get to the end.

Next, edit it. Remove anything that isn’t perfect. You should see things in it that aren’t as good as you like (if you don’t, go back to the reading). Fix them. Ignore the good parts and concentrate on fixing the bad.

A workshop is a good idea. If the story is science fiction, fantasy, or horror, join Critters at But it’s not necessary.

To publish, find a list of markets that publish stories similar to yours and send it off to them. If it’s a book, also look into getting an agent. Remember Yog’s rule: Money flows toward the writer. If anyone asks you to pay them, run away. Run away quicker if the publisher is named “PublishAmerica.”

If you want to self-publish, remember that you are putting up the cash, and it is extremely unlikely you’ll earn it back. Atlanta Nights is #40 on Lulu’s all-time best seller lists, and the 3rd best selling novel on their list. It has sold about 500 copies and had more publicity on the Internet than you are able to scare up (just google “Travis Tea,” its “author”). And Lulu is one of the better places to self-publish.

If you do self-publish, you’ll have to do all the publicity, and visit every bookstore that you want to sell it, convincing the owner to stock your book – and they’ll only take it if it’s on consignment, which means you buy the book, and they’ll pay you only if they sell it at the standard markup.

Ultimately, there are no easy ways to succeed. You’re going to have to work on it. If what you want is to have people read your book (outside of friends, family, and people who you’ve met face-to-face), you’re less likely to succeed by publishing yourself than if you go to a commercial publisher.

Read On Writing by Stephen King

Besides self-publishing, there are “vanity houses” that will publish and print your book for a fee. Lately, the computer age has resulted in “on-demand vanity publishing houses” that are much less expensive. They only print the books as they are sold.

One I used (and I did get more than my money back from my book) is iUniverse. They will publish your book for a modest fee and make it available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble (stores and online) and other bookstores. They don’t publicize it, that’s up to you, but if the book is any good, you can promote it yourself on your own website and in other ways. Best is to get all your family and friends to by the tome. :slight_smile:

Their royalties are not bad, and you don’t have a lot to lose. There are other such on-demand publishers too, but don’t have any link now…you can Google.

Oh, yeah, when you do start getting royalties, the bad news is you have to pay federal and state income taxes on the money each year. The worse news is the danmed IRS form you have to use is a royal pain in the ass.

Good luck!