Before the rise of self-publishing, the vast majority of writers who wanted their book published would find the process long and difficult. Publishers would receive many unsolicited manuscripts from hopeful writers. Often publishers would only consider manuscripts that were submitted to them through an agent and finding a good agent was no easy task. Aspiring authors became accustomed to receiving rejection letters and eventually many gave up, leaving their manuscripts to gather dust, unread by their potential audience. Some paid to have their books printed by a vanity press, which could give them the sense of fulfilment of holding their own book. However, few had access to the many skills needed to deliver a high quality finished product. They could be left with hundreds of books which they had to store and might struggle to market and sell.
When an author was offered a publishing deal by a traditional publisher, it could take years for the book to appear on shelves. Authors might be required to rewrite their manuscript a number of times and the text would need to be proofread and edited. Other skilled professionals involved in the process would include cover designers and people with experience in the formatting, printing, distribution and marketing of books. The costs involved could be considerable and authors were often fortunate to earn more than their initial advance. An author would typically receive only a small percentage of the book sale price and very few went on to earn a good living from writing alone, even if their books sold well. However, writers with a publishing deal were able to focus on the creative side of their writing career, rather than worrying about the book production process.
The growth of the Internet has provided writers with new opportunities to self-publish, market and sell their books, without the need to get a deal with a traditional publisher. Whether distributed through their own website, or platforms such as Amazon and iBooks, self-publishing has enabled many writers, who would have been rejected by traditional publishers, to find a readership. However, to be successful a writer will still need to acquire or employ the many skills needed to deliver a book that is of the quality readers are accustomed to. In addition to being well written and having an appropriate title, the book should be proofread and edited, by someone with suitable experience. The book should have a cover design that can attract buyers and whether published as an ebook or physical book, will need to be correctly formatted.
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