Umberto Nicolleti, cc

Umberto Nicolleti, cc

I am doing some soul searching. I have come to a crossroads with my book. I am just finishing up my last bit of editing after a round of beta reading. I think it is ready for the next step. But deciding what the next step is…that is tougher.

I was planning on querying some literary agents and indie publishers, with the full expectation that I would hear nothing but crickets for a few months, and then decide to self-publish. But I have discovered some other next steps, and now I am torn.

A lawyer colleague of mine put me in touch with a woman at a company here in Seattle that helps authors. It’s called Girl Friday Productions. The folks at Girl Friday are editors, publishing consultants, publicity gurus…basically they provide whatever you need at whatever stage you are at. We had a great coffee session and she told me that what I most likely needed at this stage was a developmental edit. She said their editors have a lot of experience in the biz and know what sells to agents, publishers, and readers. She said they would then be able to help me with the query process to try to maximize my success with traditional publishers.

I have shied away from the thought of doing a professional developmental edit because of the cost. But I do see that there could be tremendous value there. It could put me in a better position to get the attention of traditional publishers, and even if it didn’t, I feel fairly confident that I would end up with a manuscript that would sell better, even if I ultimately self-published. And yes, I understand that this company could be pulling the wool over my eyes to part me from my hard-earned cash (though I didn’t get that vibe). But that is factoring into the calculus.

There are some other options out there that are attracting my attention, as well. One is another Seattle-based company, called Booktrope. Has anyone heard of this company, or published with it? According to their website, there is some sort of vetting process, and if you pass, you get added to their author pool. Once in their pool, publishing professionals like editors, cover designers, and publicity folks can sign onto your project. You then form a “team” that works together to publish your book through Booktrope. Rather than pay them upfront, Booktrope and your team get a cut of the proceeds from your book. This, in theory. keeps your team invested in the long-term success of your book in a way that other publishing models would not. This is a fascinating idea!

I have also been hearing about other “hybrid publishers” like SheWrites and Christopher Matthews Publishing. These companies (I’m sure there are others out there as well) also have a vetting process before you go into their publishing lineup. Once you are given the green light, you pay a pretty little fee for a copyedit, proofread, cover design and interior layout. But these companies help you with all the publishing and distribution, and the books look very professional. Yes, this seems like “vanity publishing” on the one hand, but on the other hand, a self-published author would have to pay a number of freelancers for similar services if they want their book to look professional, anyway. So what is the harm in getting it in one package?

There are so many options out there, it is overwhelming. I would love to talk to others of you who have been through the process or worked with any of these companies. How did you decide what your next steps would be?

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