Publishing: What are the Rules, Who Makes Them, and Do You Need to Follow Them?

Publishing: What are the Rules, Who Makes Them, and Do You Need to Follow Them?

Publishing: What are the Rules, Who Makes Them, and Do You Need to Follow Them?

I used to get a lot of bitter and antagonistic emails or messages saying “Those aren’t really the rules,” “You don’t do it like that,” and more. They all came from a place of bitterness, and let me tell you why. 

There are a lot of people out there who love to see the publishing world as a dreamworld: once they finish a book, they imagine getting published under a reputable publishing house, selling their books, and getting a lot of money from it. This may be true at some point in history and it might be true today for an anomaly of an author.

But for most of us, we have a long haul, an uphill battle, toward publishing. And to publish, you must follow the rules.

The people who come at me with bitterness and antagonism don’t want to follow the rules. Rather, they’re upset that there are rules. These people:

  1. Are not willing to do the work. There is a lot of work involved in writing. We must revise our work in accordance to what our editors recommend, and we must sacrifice our ego at times in order to produce the best possible outcome for our writing. 
  2. Don’t want the rules to play by the rules. They wish and hope for the game to be different. They want to write that novel, send it to a publisher, and get money for their work. It’s a really nice fantasy but it is just that–a fantasy. 

These writers do not agree with the system and its rules. In traditional publishing, you must find an agent who will then connect you with a publishing house, and you work from there.

This is the reality of publishing. It is the paradigm in which we are all working, and we have to accept it if we want success. 

There are people who try to circumvent this process by self-publishing. They think they’ve avoided agents and publishing houses, but what ends up happening is they have a garage full of unsold books. More power to you if you have found success in self-publishing. However, time and time again, I witness writers stuck with their unsold books. 

There aren’t rules simply for the sake of having rules. Publishing houses operate with these rules because we have established patterns on how this publishing business works. This process is like applying to college. You have to go through the application process, set up interviews, and more. The college sets the procedure, and in the same way, publishing houses set the rules and procedures for publishing.

We, as the writers, don’t get to choose the rules. 

I help writers to transition from the art of writing into the business of publishing. I help people publish and get the representation they need. If you are ready to accept what the guidelines are and are ready to sell your book, let’s chat.

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