Every writer dreams of having his or her novel published, but it takes a great deal of time and effort to reach that goal, especially if you choose to wait for a traditional publisher to accept your manuscript. The problem is that traditional publishers are bombarded with so many manuscripts daily that they have become pickier about the ones they choose to publish. In addition, the industry as a whole has become more competitive, so publishers are only choosing what they feel will sell. They may not always be right, but they make decisions based upon what appears to be the right decision at the time.
Publishers are reluctant to take a chance on new writers and when they do they will seldom accept an epic length novel or any novel over 100,000. In fact most publishers prefer no more than 80,000-90,000 words for first time writers. Although that seems a rather fair amount for most genres, it is rather restricting for science fiction and fantasy. In addition, the Internet has created many new avenues for writers beyond that of traditional publishing, so those who are restricted by demands of traditional publishers are turning to self-publishing and vanity presses in order to maintain control over their own work.
Even with self-publishing the writer must make a difficult decision. The existence of so many different online publishers and vanity presses means the writer has to conduct research to make sure the publisher he chooses for his novel is both reliable and honest. Unfortunately many of the companies online that call themselves traditional publishers are really only printers who do not review any of the work they choose to publish. This is not true of all of them, but it does mean the writer has to do extensive research before he or she turns over a manuscript to anyone.
The other thing that faces writers today is how to publish their novel—print, eBook or POD (Publish on Demand). While print and eBook are clearly forms of publishing, POD simply means you only print copies when you have orders. Many people tend to confuse POD and self-publishing when they are two different things. You can self-publish your novel in print or eBook form but within the print version you can also choose POD. Both online and traditional publishers are utilizing the POD method of publishing in order to save money on books that don’t sell well. It certainly opens up more opportunities for the new novelist because even a traditional publisher may be more apt to take a chance.
While there are many more opportunities for novel publication than there were even twenty years ago, the market still remains competitive. For this reason many authors are turning to self-publishing using various online sources. They are willing to absorb the costs of publishing their own novels so they don’t face the rejections and don’t have to wait up to five years to see their novel in print. Many authors have started with a self-published novel and were later offered contracts with advances by traditional publishers so don’t automatically assume doing it yourself is a bad idea.