How to Become a Published Author
Everyone has a story, and—aside from the sheer thrill of seeing your name in print—there are many reasons why you might be champing at the bit to tell the world your tale. You’ve seen things, you’ve done things, you’ve learnt things, and you know someone, somewhere will resonate with the narrative you have to share. By publishing a book, you can write your own legacy, forever documented with an ISBN number.
But where do you begin? How do you become an actual, legitimate published author?
“The traditional route is that an author would put a proposal together, write a proposal and find a literary agent to shop a book for them,” Jonathan Merkh, president and publisher of Forefront Books, explained to Worth. “Once the literary agent shops the book and a publisher is interested, they come to a deal where a publisher might offer an advance in order to buy the rights to the book. And then from there, typically, once a manuscript is delivered, it’s usually a year to a year-and-a-half process between the time a book deal is done, and a manuscript is delivered, to the time that the book finally comes out.”
While that might all seem somewhat straightforward, in actuality, it’s not.
“It’s getting much more difficult to get a book published today because of the word platform,” Merkh said. “Publishers are taking fewer and fewer chances—and not publishing as many books. Because if you do not have a platform, they will not publish, even if the idea is good. What most publishers are focusing on now are big names with big platforms.”
And when it comes to platforms, the publishing industry set a high bar; according to Merkh, even 100,000 followers on social media is considered really small in book publishing. Traditional publishers are looking for authors who already have a platform that reaches several hundred thousand to millions of people.
“The word discoverability is a key word in publishing,” Merkh explained. “And that is: How are people going to know about your book in order to want to buy your book? And if you don’t have that platform, it’s tough.”
With traditional publishers unwilling to take risks and digital transformation taking hold of nearly every part of our lives, there has been a huge impetus toward self-publishing in recent years, with Amazon’s Kindle and e-books opening the flood gates. However, to truly compete in the saturated self-publishing market, you have to take charge of all the variables—from the cover design and copyediting to all sales. Not to mention, by taking this route, it’s next to impossible to get your book into bookstores.
There has to be a better way, right?
That question had been on our minds at Worth for quite a while; from within our brilliant community of entrepreneurs and leaders, we’ve heard so many inspiring stories and words of wisdom over the years—many of which we just knew were books in the making. So, last week, we announced our expansion into book publishing through a partnership with Forefront Books. The imprint, Worth Books, is changing the game in publishing for our authors by leveraging Worth Media’s substantial audience and digital platform, as well as the expertise and distribution power of Simon & Schuster, to now offer a one-of-a-kind path to authorship.
“The advantages of going with this type of publishing is the authors get to keep their rights,” explained Merkh. “So, publishers usually buy the rights of the intellectual property from the authors—and then they own those rights into perpetuity. Sometimes authors try to get their rights back, but it’s very difficult. And publishers don’t like to do that because that’s gold to them. Timing is another issue. Typically, if you do a traditional book deal, it’s going to be a year, a year and a half, before you can get your book out. We can move a lot faster. We can get a book out within six months, or even sooner, if an author wants it or needs to, in order to have a book released by a particular conference or something to that effect…we’re able to move faster. We provide the same type of distribution that a traditional publisher would because we have a relationship with Simon & Schuster. So, unlike other companies that do what we’re doing, most of them will just put you up on Amazon, and maybe list you with a distributor like Ingram. We actually have salespeople that are calling on the bookstores to sell our books into the bookstores. So, it really gives you the advantages of both worlds. We’re providing a service that you otherwise couldn’t get.”
In addition to the publishing acumen behind dozens of New York Times bestsellers, authors published under the Worth Books imprint will have the full weight of Worth’s platform behind them—a benefit that Merkh says shouldn’t be underplayed.
“There is a seal of approval there that otherwise wouldn’t be there,” he said. “And then, when you add the platform in the various ways that Worth can use its newsletters and Book Club…all of those things are things money can’t buy. That’s something that really is of great value. A traditional publisher does not have a mailing list like Worth’s; they’re just selling [your book] to the bookstores. And then, they may try to get you some media interviews for publicity purposes, but after that, traditional publishers don’t do that much to promote a book.”
So, how does it work? Well, it starts with an email. Worth Books is currently considering qualified authors for publication in spring/summer of 2021. To apply or for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.