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Writing, Editing, and Publishing Indigenous Stories

How Are Books Published?

Traditional book publishing is when a publisher offers the author a contract. In turn, they print, publish, and sell your book through booksellers, wholesalers and other channels. The publisher buys the right to publish your book and pays you royalties from the sales.

To find the right publisher you will need to do some research. 

  • To find one, go to a bookstore and find similar types of books, and look at the publisher. Or, check the bibliography of academic books to see which companies publish in your field. 
  • If you write non-fiction, you will need to submit  a book proposal with a few sample chapters.
  • If you are writing fiction, depending on the publisher you should be prepared that one of the requirements is that your manuscript is complete.

Once these steps are accomplished, you're ready to write a query letter.

  • This letter is what you will send to potential publishers.
  • It's important to mention the different parts that make up a query letter.
    • You should be sure to mention the synopsis of your book, chapter summaries, and the market or audience your book is meant for, and explain your ability to tell the story or write an academic book. 

Most publishers will ask that submissions to be uploaded to their websites, but each publisher is unique and may have different ways in which they want materials submitted.

*A note about agents 

Some writers of trade books work with agents. Most agents only accept clients who have already published a book or have a track record to draw upon. Most publishers would advise new writers to approach them directly, and not try to first find an agent. 

Types of Publishing

Trade publishing

  • Trade publishing is a book industry term that refers to the business of publishing books for a general audience.

Children's publishing

  • Publishers who specialize in books with children's content or youth content.

Self publishing

  • Independently: When an author controls and finances the entire book publication process, including editing, design, printing, distribution, and marketing.

    The author either has the skill set to publishing his or her own book, or employs professionals to do so. The author largely creates his or her own experience. Independent publishing requires that authors have in-depth industry knowledge, management skills, and a way to finance and bring their own book to market. It can be a high risk choice. 

  • With a company: Authors who publish with the help of a self-publishing company are also self publishing. This is because the author is financing the majority of the publishing process. Some self-publishing companies offer publishing services to authors. Examples of services commonly offered include ISBN assignment, book cover design, interior layout, editing, distribution, and marketing. Some companies only get the book printed, while others mimic traditional publishing houses, providing a full set of publishing and marketing services. Friesen Press provides excellent information to authors who wish to explore this option:

Friesen Press:

Online publishing

  • Also referred to as e-publishing or digital publishing, this includes the digital publication of e-books, digital magazines, websites, and the development of digital libraries and catalogues. These materials are mostly destined to be read on a screen.

Educational publishing

  • Educational publishers are companies that specialize in publishing materials for educational markets: primary schools, colleges and universities, training programs, etc. This may include textbooks, indexes and abstracts, study guides, and the like. 

Magazine publishing

  • A publisher that specifically publishes magazines.

Newspaper publishing

  • A publisher that specifically publishes newspapers.

Academic publishing

  • Academic or scholarly publishers work with scholars to publish their research. Most academic works are peer-reviewed and published as journal articles or books. 

Open Access publishing

Publishing with the library

  • This can be done by either publishing with a university press that is associated with their institution's library, or publishing through a library's maker space.

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