Our books editor lays out the path for young writers who want to get their work published.

If you followed last month’s advice on how to succeed as an author, you may be well on your way to completing your first project or at least have started writing (if we’re being more realistic). Writing is the beginning of a long process which includes getting someone to read your work, editing, proofing and formatting. After publishing, there are still marketing and distribution processes (discussed in the future).

This month we look at publishing. Here are five things to consider before publishing:

1. Know your target market

Who is your book meant for? What can they afford to pay for your book? This will help you in deciding what the best publishing route is so that you don’t spend money you can’t make back from book sales.

2. Do you want to sell your work? Or could you share your work pro bono?

This will help you choose the most suitable publishing option so that you can achieve your goal. If you want to get people to read your book for free, consider selling it to libraries or getting sponsors to buy a number of copies for community centres.

3. Get to understand your publishing options

If you can’t afford to get a book agent, get online and research various publishing options. Podcasts are popular so you may want to explore releasing your book in audio format or self publish it on various free platforms. You could share your work on a blog.

4. Research your publishing house before approaching them

Most publishers have a list of requirements on their website, read them carefully before submitting your work. Also make sure that they cater for your writing genre. Some publishers will explicitly state that they don’t publish poetry, others that they only publish children’s books.

5. Always read the fine print

Mainstream publishing can get expensive. Sometimes the deal is that the publisher publishes “for free” and are paid via royalties as the book sells. But be careful. Read the contract carefully and ask questions if you don’t understand the legalities. Ask questions about the distribution and marketing plans as well. Negotiate that you keep the copyright for your work and make sure that the contract is as flexible as possible. Make sure that there is no uncertainty because like any other professional relationship, money is one of the most crucial parts of a successful publisher-author relationship.