Do You Want To Publish Your Own Novel?


Michelle Sherman, EMC Intern/Staff Writer


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to publish your own novel? How is it done or is it even possible? Today I’ll explain the lengthy, yet rewarding process of publishing your own novel, as a new author. 

Let’s start from the beginning, what does it mean to publish a book or just publishing in general? “Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the distribution of printed works, such as books, newspapers, and magazines” according to the  Cambridge Dictionary (page # here). it’s a way to spread information and entertainment to a vast number of people. Furthermore, there are multiple different types of publications, such as traditional, self-publishing, crowdfunding, and social platforms. Traditional publication has three different subcategories, publishing through a literary agent, without an agent, and via book proposal ( Bingham).


 “Literary agents are basically salespeople who sell manuscripts from writers like you to the big publishers. They don’t charge any kind of upfront fee for that service; they take a commission on sales made, typically 15%.” If you choose to go through a literary agent, they’ll edit and design cover art, sell the book via to either bricks and mortar retailers or online retailers, and lastly market the book. However there is a catch, for your book to be published through an agent, the manuscript must be very well written and the novel would be in dual-ownership with you and the publisher. If you decide to have an agent, you’ll be writing a mix of nonfiction and fiction. A few pros would be that you have experienced professionals handling the production, sale, and marketing. A con would be that you’d lose control of your intellectual property-since the book was sold to the publisher (Bingham)

In contrast without using an agent, it’s much harder to publish a book, since you have to find a publisher on your own. The difference between the two is that normally you’d send your work to an literary agent, while using this method you’d send the manuscript to the publication agency directly. You have to be careful when selecting certain publication agencies, for example if you were writing a book about World War ll, you’ll need to approach publishers familiar with that field. Normally writers without an agent write nonfiction, historical, and educational books. From not using an agent would be getting to publish works that’re too niche, although a negative would be that bookstores don’t shift copies of niche books, they are usually sold on Amazon (Bingham)

A book proposal is selling the outline of the book and seeing whether anyone is interested. This option is only regarded for nonfiction material. The proposal has to contain ten thousand words, with an addition to a query letter, a personal bio, analysis of target market, and three sample chapters. Ultimately when using a book proposal you can secure a contract and get paid before you’ve even finished the manuscript; there are no cons to this concept (Harry Bingham)

Self-publishing is a way for an author to publish their works by themselves. There is one way to self-publish, which is through Amazon. If you use Amazon, you are able to sell your work at the world’s largest online bookstore. Amazon does not charge you for stocking your book. It has easy tools to create your ebook and your print book. The royalties are 70% of the ebook sale price. That’s over 4 times what you’ll get via a traditional publisher and agent. The benefit of using Amazon, is that it’s very lucrative and you retain complete control over the entire process. The only downside is that you have to work very hard to compete with the competition (Harry Bingham). 

Many new writers use online platforms to express themselves and tell fascinating stories. Of the social-as-storytelling platforms, by far the best known and most elaborate is Wattpad, with some 70 million users who are there for the purpose of storytelling. Wattpad is a huge site for fan-fiction and romance, but it’s pioneered other genres too. It has a Wattpad “After Dark” site, aimed at romance for adult readers. The pros of using social platforms, like Wattpad, is that there are no upfront costs. And lastly is crowdfunding, which is a way for authors to have financial support while producing a book, similar to a book proposal (Harry Bingham).

Now that we know the difference between the different types of publication, let’s explore how to publish a novel, step-by-step.

  • Step One: You need to determine the genre or category of your literacy piece. When writing novels or memoirs you need to finish your manuscript before consulting with an editor or agent. Although as mentioned previously, if you are writing nonfiction, you should write a proposal instead. The most common novel genres are young adult, romance, erotica, women’s fiction, historical, mystery, crime, thriller, and science fiction & fantasy (Jane Friedman). 


  • Step Two: You should either find a publisher or agent. The best place for finding a publisher or agent is to attend a writer’s conferences, to practice networking, and join the writer’s association. (MasterClass). Also it’s smart to research multiple different publishers and agents to find the best for you and your work. You can also use a variety of websites to research, such as and (Jane Friedman).


  • Step Three: Remember to prepare your submission materials for the publisher or agent, especially if you are writing a book proposal (Jane Friedman).


  • Step Four: Submit your materials. Almost no agent or publisher accepts full manuscripts on first contact, rather they will accept a one-page query letter unless their guidelines state otherwise. After you send out your queries, you will have a mix of responses. If you receive no response at all, this would be concluded as a rejection. You might also have an inquiry for either a full or partial manuscript (Jane Friedman).


Publishing your first book can be a struggle, but many others before you have struggled with it as well. To explain Sara Collins, a lawyer, a mother of five children, and an author, explains that it can be a hassle to make time for writing a book yet you’ll surely arrive at the conclusion, “A book is built word by word. Guided by that idea, you can schedule writing into whatever time you have to spare, without worrying about whether it’s enough. Mark it on your calendar; think of it as making an appointment with your own ambition (Penguin). Another author, Shelly Oria, published her first book in November 2014. She described her experience as being anxious, shy,  and nervous from all the attention. Shelly eventually developed a list for new writers, say if they experience the same concerns. Shelly recommends to be proud, prioritize self-care, journal your exposures, write, be mindful of relationships, accept the outcomes, and most importantly don’t isolate yourself (Oria). 


In conclusion there are a plethora of ways to publish your work as a new author. Those include traditional, self-publishing, crowdfunding, and social platforms. Hopefully this study has informed you of taking a new leap in your writing career. The future readers await to become enchanted within your writing!


Works Cited

“How to Get Your Book Published.” Jericho Writers, 10 July 2020, 

“How to Get a Book Published: Penguin Publishing.” How to Get a Book Published | Penguin Publishing,

Jane Friedman. “Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published.” Jane Friedman, 17 Sept. 2020, steps to getting a,a query letter, usually.

MasterClass. “How to Become a Published Author: 8 Steps for Getting Published – 2021.” MasterClass, MasterClass, 8 Nov. 2020,

Oria, Shelly. “Publishing Your First Book: Advice for First-Time Authors.” Poets & Writers, 27 Sept. 2019,

“Publishing.” Cambridge Dictionary,