Presentation is everything: Formatting a manuscript correctly for publishing

Before you submit your script, be sure to make it presentable, readable and pleasing to the eye. Many writers do this through all kinds of formatting and colours. This is wrong. Before you commit your script to the publisher, read the publisher’s submission guidelines. This is important because a wrongly formatted script – no matter how good – will not be read. It is also important to check international best practice on the matter. If you are unsure which publisher in the country you will be submitting to, then refer to international publishers. Many South African publishers follow them anyways. So if you format according to a well-known American or European publisher, chances are a South African publisher will find your script admissible. Continue

To self-publish or to find a publisher, that is the question. Is it not?

So when it comes to whether you should publish your own book or look for a publisher, I just do not have one straight answer. Many people that published themselves always come back smarter and braver from the experience. They suddenly realise that publishing is really not as simple. They also understand the process, the workflow and the cycle – from writing, refining, proofing, subbing, layout, editing, re-editing, printing and then the final product. They also seem to understand the sales element of the process, as well as the marketing. This is a good thing – for an author to understand all these.

The frustration though, from self-published authors comes from those who sometimes do it for wrong reasons – such as thinking that we publishers are greedy fools after authors’ royalties, or sometimes you have been rejected so many times, or because you think you will be able to become an instant millionaire, or because you think your material needs no editing or processing by professionals.

So should you publish yourself? I do not know … Maybe, maybe not! But in all honesty, why not? Why not publish your own book if you have all the required stuff in place? If you have a good proof-reader, good editor, good material and good sales knack – why not? My biggest problem with self-publishing is the lack of professionalism in most books – from the spelling errors, bad grammar, bad design etc.

So should you find a publisher? I do not know … Maybe, maybe not! Big publishers are great. They are the big fish and if you can get to one, why not! Here are a few reasons why:

1. They are a bit difficult to negotiate royalty for example – Penguin gives nothing more than 12.5% for entry level author.

2. They are professionals, so you cannot half-step when working with them.

3. They might not give your book a lot of attention as you are still a new writer. So you will have to do a lot of work yourself.

4. They are very dismissive – and quickly so. Sometimes mistakenly.

But if you get a good big publisher, your name can be made.

So what is my advice? Start small … Go to a small independent publisher. Find out how they work. What is their royalty. How often do they pay. Who did they publish. etc Then you can submit to them for a review – even if they do not publish you, a small independent publisher can give a very good review that can guide you into a better writing career …