The world of book publishing

A lot of people are surprised to learn that I have eight books that have been published. Most of these focus on bivocational ministry and small church challenges. In addition I have an ebook, Mistakes: Avoiding the Wrong Decisions That Will Close Your Small Business that I wrote after having to close a small business we owned. I am now seeking a publisher for another book.

The company that published most of my books went through a restructure a few years ago and have severely reduced the number of books they now publish. Last week they informed me they would not include my latest book in their schedule. I hated that for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was how great they were to work with. I also enjoyed not having to send a query letter before submitting my manuscript to them. They had published enough of my books that they allowed me to just send the manuscript. Now, I not only have to find a new publisher (hopefully!), I also have to go through the additional work of preparing a query letter.

A rather well-known Christian author recently announced on Facebook that he was preparing a website where he would release a chapter at a time of his latest book. People can buy the right to download each chapter when it is ready and read the book in that way. Other writers now rely strictly on ebooks rather than try to get their books in print. However, despite the belief a few years ago that ebooks spelled the death of physical books, it appears that belief was premature. Since 2014 the sales of ebooks has declined every year while the sales of physical books has increased.

In 2017 the number of self-published books topped the one million mark for the first time ever. This reflects how difficult it is to get a book published, especially for new authors. Many publishing companies will not even consider a book unless it comes to them through a professional agent. Others request that the book be listed in a couple of websites that they check periodically to see if anything interests them. Of those that do accept query letters, approximately 90 percent of those queries are rejected. The remaining 10 percent are asked to submit their manuscript where another 80 percent are then rejected.

A number of people, after learning I am a published author, tell me they want to write a book and ask how they get it published. They are surprised to learn how difficult it is, and to my knowledge not one person who has asked me that question has attempted to write a book.

Getting a book published the conventional way is not easy, especially today. You have to have a thick skin and not take rejection personally. It requires a lot of patience even after signing a contract because there is always a lot of editing and rewrites before the book is finished. Still, it is so rewarding when you finally see the finished product. According to UNESCO there were nearly 305,000 books published in the United States in 2017. I hope my next book will be included in the figure for 2019.


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