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About Writing Right: The Blog


Someone asked me on Quora the other day where he could self-publish a book with an agent. He received a number of inappropiate replies. Here's what I told him.

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Well, welcome to the world of ridiculous answers. I see you don't specify whether your book is fiction or nonfiction, print or eBook, but that didn't stop one perennially notorious misleading respondent from advising you that your "novel" isn't long enough to be publishable, which in itself is inaccurate advice. If you're self-publishing either fiction or nonfiction, there are no rules on length. Nor are there any hard-and-fast dicta on sales and pricing of self-published books.


If you're serious about self-publishing, you should know that not only don't you need an agent but also you won't find an agent willing to take you on as a client. So, you're right on track there!


As for finding a printer/aggregator (the company that actually takes your manuscript and turns it into a printed book or a multi-formatted eBook), there are plenty of places to check out. Amazon's KDP is probably the best known and easiest to get into. It's also the least expensive, charging you nothing upfront. Other free sources include Draft 2 Digital and Lulu. Ingram Spark charges an affordable setup fee, but they're a little more challenging to deal with and less reliable to communicate with than KDP and D2D (not sure about Lulu). All offer setup guides, including formatting your manuscript correctly, formatting the cover, and other helpful advice. I suggest you do some research and learn as much as possible about POD before taking the leap.


Given these parameters, I would not succumb to the temptation of hiring a self-publishing guru who charges anything for what you can get free of charge, regardless of the promises that guru makes.


Whatever you choose to do, give some thought about how you're going to let the world know you're an author once your book is published and available for sale. You can't count on any help from your aggregator, so you're going to have to figure out how to do the marketing yourself, which is really the most challenging aspect of self-publishing, whether or not you choose to go fiction or nonfiction and print or eBook.


By the way, because of the variables involved, book lengths are not designated by the number of pages but, rather, by the number of words. Pages can vary depending upon several factors; words can't.


I hope this helps to clear up some of the garbage responses you received earlier. Meanwhile, smoke if you've got 'em.

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 D. J. Herda is author of the new ebook series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available at Amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere. You can check out his weekly column, "The Author-Ethicist," at Substack.com.

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