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Back in 2013, I wrote a column on self-publishing. In the year and a half since, I have read quite a few more self-published and small press books. And, I am happy announce, I just released my first story collection, A Witch Among Wolves and Other Pagan Tales, through Asphodel Press. Based on my own experience, I have a few more suggestions. 

First, make sure that the manuscript you assemble contains your best material -- whether it be poetry, short stories, novellas, a novel, essays, or a lengthy piece of nonfiction. Do not send in a first draft, a second draft, or even a third draft. Edit, proof, and edit again. Chances are that you will probably miss something; that's fine, so long as the errors are relatively minor. No editor or publishing house is going to accept a manuscript which has to be rewritten from the ground up to make it publishable.

Second, find a publisher who fits your needs and your ideals. I went with Asphodel Press for a variety of reasons. I like their business model (they're a publishing cooperative) and the fact that they are an explicitly Pagan publisher. Additionally, A Witch Among Wolves is a short story collection -- a hard sell to most publishers, who are interested only in longer works. Asphodel Press had released a number of poetry collections already, and so was interested in my anthology. So, do your homework. Look for a publisher who has released books in the same or similar genre as your own; don't waste everyone's time by submitting something that will never be accepted.* Check social media for feedback on publishers; one or two complaints from authors could be sour grapes, but a slew of complaints are a bad sign.**  

Third, keep the lines of communication open. Once you select a publisher, and the publisher agrees to move forward with your manuscript, make sure that you stay in touch. Email, Skype, instant messaging, phone calls, whatever it takes. If anyone is going to be out of reach for an extended period, make sure the other party knows. Respond to emails, et cetera in a timely manner; for example, do not wait a week to send back any corrections to the publisher, or to answer your author's query about pricing and royalties.

Fourth, be patient. Publishing can take time. Editing, proofing, cover art, physical proof copies, digital proof copies, et cetera. Your book will not be released the day after it is accepted by the publisher. Probably not even a month. Three to six months is more likely.

Finally, once the book is released, stay on top of it. Keep tabs on the sales. Make sure your royalties add up. Look for review venues. Watch out for pirated copies (although that can be like fighting a hydra). Promote it and promote it and promote it. Even if your publisher has an in-house pr department, that doesn't leave you off the hook. It's your work. You should be proud of it. Tell the world about your book!

Hopefully, my own experiences will prove useful to other writers. We need more great Pagan literature. Go! Write! Publish! 

 

*Seriously, just don't. It's annoying. I cannot tell you how many pieces I have had to decline for Eternal Haunted Summer and the various Bibliotheca Alexandrina anthologies that I have edited because the author either 1) failed to read the submission guidelines, or 2) thought those guidelines did not apply to him/her/hir.

**Writer Beware is an excellent resource, warning authors about questionable publishers, writing contests, publishing contracts, and so forth. Use it.