Traditional Publishing – The Big Secret

Once I had finished writing and editing my manuscript, I felt compelled to publish it. I sent the manuscript to Karl’s mother to read. Karl and his journey with Autism had inspired the book so I wanted him to create the drawings to illustrate it. With his mother’s help and guidance he was able to do so.


(Illustration by Karl Gabriel from ‘Shine’ by Justine Edward)

I received a beautiful series of crayon drawings in the mail which were exactly what I wanted; but would they be what a traditional publisher wanted?

Over the past decade I had sent half a dozen manuscripts to traditional publishers with no success. I knew my subject matter and I knew my manuscripts were well written and edited. So I was at a loss to understand why they were rejecting my work yet simultaneously publishing works which I felt had much less merit.

It was not until recently that I discovered the BIG SECRET. And here it is, so if you are an aspiring author take note. Traditional publishers “don’t buy books, they buy authors” to quote Reid Tracy, President and CEO of Hay House books. They are only interested in budding authors who come with a ready-made audience. How do you do this? You have to develop your ‘platform’.

I’m not talking about diving here. I’m talking about things like:

  • your facebook page
  • blog
  • twitter account and
  • website (subscribers/email list)

Even your email signature can help to build your platform. They want writers with lots of followers. Not tens or hundreds (like most of us mere mortals), but thousands. Or, better yet, tens of thousands.

No wonder traditional publishers had rejected me in the past. I didn’t even have a twitter account and I was very proud of the fact that, when you Googled my name, nothing about me came up. At least some things were starting to make sense.

Editors were not the visionaries I imagined them to be; sitting in their offices pouring over manuscripts trying to find the next amazing piece to bring to print. They were business people who sat in offices, reading the overview of a manuscript in a book proposal and then flipping straight to the marketing section. No ready-made audience. No chance!

Thankfully there is more than one path that leads to success. And self-publishing does offer a viable alternative if you want to publish but don’t have a big enough platform to impress a traditional publisher.

If, like me, you feel compelled to publish your manuscript because you believe with all your heart that you have a message that needs to be heard, then there is another way.

Be aware that both paths require you to develop a platform but with self-publishing it is not a prerequisite to getting your work into print. If you want your self-published book to be successful then you DO need to start working on it and in coming blogs I will share everything I have learnt with you.

In my next blog I will tell you which publisher I chose and share my experience with self-publishing.

Until then, shine on!