Someone recently asked me how he could find a reliable editor for his first novel. It seems the last people he'd hired stole his "uncopyrighted work," which left him with a bad taste in his mouth for this whole writing/publishing business. Understandbly. Adding to his trauma, he wants to publish his novel by the end of 2021. Is that even possible?
Well, first, I corrected some fallacies that others were throwing his way, so he didn't waste time running down a blind alley. Here's what I told him in a nutshell
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- You don't have to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office to protect it, and, in fact, you can't do so unless you're a U.S. citizen. Registering your work, while having some advantages, also takes time, and that's something of which you don't seem to have a lot. The good news is that, regardless of where you live, virtually all countries recognize the copyright of a work from the time of its completion. If you could afford an attorney or a legal counseling group's recommendation—or even learn more about copyright law yourself—you could go to the thieves of your work and demand in writing that they cease publication and reimburse you for any monetary losses you may have suffered. In lieu of hiring an attorney, you could join a writing association such as the Author's Guild, which provides complimentary legal advice and services to their author members.
- As for getting an agent, you can't just look in a guide and select one to represent you. Agents are overwhelmed by requests for agency representation and, thus, can afford to be incredibly selective. I've long said that the only thing more difficult than getting a book published conventionally is locating a receptive literary agent. And I say this, having had six to date. But I'm the exception and not the rule.
- Similarly, while you search the Web to find conventional (that is, advance-paying) publishers who accept unagented manuscripts, the chances of anyone even reading your material, let alone contracting with you to publish it, are minimal. The reason, as in finding an agent, is that the ocean is filled with swimmers, and there are only so many lifeboats to pluck them out of the sea. Besides, conventional publishers take an average of anywhere from one to two years to bring a book to market.
As you're beginning to gather, this business of writing and getting published is not simple. Compounding your problem is your self-imposed deadline for getting your novel published. You can always publish it yourself via Amazon Kindle or some other POD (Print-On-Demand) publishing service relatively quickly and for little or no money down. Still, you'll have to pay for cover art, interior formatting, cover formatting front and back, proofreading, layout and design, and more. All of these things can get costly in a hurry.
With all this to take into consideration, given your circumstances, I'd suggest you hire someone to do the job. The person should be not only a top-notch editor but also an accomplished novelist who knows the in's and out's of the publishing industry. That person should also be qualified to take your book from final edit through POD publication, including all the potentially costly things I mentioned above. That means he or she either has to be incredibly talented in all areas of publishing or know of some affordable professionals in those areas in which he doesn't excel.
I believe this is the only way to accomplish everything you want before the end of the year and have it done correctly. Finding the right professional to see your book through, then, becomes tantamount to success.
Where do you look for this super-person? On the Internet, if you don't mind ending up with the wrong person or agency. The Web overflows with publishing fulfillment services that will handle everything for a hefty price. Instead, why not contact a few talented individuals, talk to some of their clients for personal recommendations, and make your choice from there. But you're going to have to hurry. You have six months to go before Zero Hour. And that's not much time for everything you need to do.
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Finally, I told him that if he wanted some recommendations, I'd be happy to send the names of several talented professionals I know to be affordable and reliable if he'll reach out to me at my Website here and click on the "Contact" tab on the main menu.
D. J. Herda is author of the new eBook series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available at Amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere.