2019 Nov 1
So you’re an aspiring author with a book you want to be published. Having a manuscript on your hands can be an amazing experience but it’s also a daunting one.
On one hand, there is a world of possibility just out of reach and on the other hand publishing, sales and marketing can be a daunting task. However, for most aspiring authors, the passion to share their ideas with the world is the force that motivates them and putting out their first work into the public can be a truly amazing experience.
When it comes to publishing a book in Sri Lanka there are certain challenges but there are also certain advantages as opposed to publishing with a big label. For one, Sri Lanka is a small market and it’s easy to get a good understanding of the people and what they want to read; on the other hand, unless you’re writing a “Sri Lankan Book” (i.e. a book about or set in Sri Lanka) it’s hard to get through to publishers.
Then there’s the infamous self- publishing. Contrary to what most people think printing and distributing your own book (or publishing it online) is still a valid way to share your story and if done well the results and satisfaction can be amazing.
If you’re looking to get your book published in Sri Lanka this what you have to do.
Getting the book in order
To publish a book you need to first have a book.
You might have it written on a word document somewhere but to take it to the next step you need to work on a few things. To start off go through the document yourself and edit it (you can get help for this. I know I will have to)
Once you have a presentable version of your book with you it’s time to do some market testing. It’s true, your book is an extension of who you are but for it to be successful people should want to read it so it’s important that you test out your idea with a few people close to you. If there are any changes that need to be done do it at this step.
Once you know you have something that people will want to read it’s time to make a manuscript. Whether you’re going through a publisher or doing it on your own it helps to have a well-edited and formatted document to work with. The usual standard is an A4 size document with a one-inch margin around with double spacing between lines. A standard font like Times New Roman in size 12 will be perfect. Don’t forget to number the pages.
Make sure you have a cover page ready and include the title of the book, your name, and contact details.
Working with a publishing company
Ever since book publishing on a mass scale was a thing, publishing companies have been in the forefront of the industry. Even though Sri Lanka is a small country we have quite a few publishing companies for you to work with.
Before approaching a publisher it’s important to do your research. Each publisher has their own brand to uphold so it’s important to check out other works published by the company before approaching them. For example, if you’re writing a young adult steampunk high fantasy zombie romance novel in English you might not want to approach a publisher who works with Sinhala kids stories.
Once you find a few publishing companies that you would like to work with it’s time to shoot them an email and try to secure a meeting with them. This meeting is going to play a big role in everything that follows so make sure that you prepare to sell your stories. You might be asked to send in the manuscript beforehand so make sure you have one prepared. Even if they don’t ask for it make sure you take a physical copy (a good quality spiral binding will work) and a soft copy with you.
If the publishing company chooses to work with you, sign a contract with them before proceeding. Once this is out of the way you have a lot more work to do. You will have to work with the publishers in editing the manuscript, being part of the design process and later marketing your book. Publishers usually take care of the finances and the logistics but you have to still be the creative soul of the book.
Here are some Sri Lankan publishers that might interest you:
Since the start of the new millennium, self-publishing is something a lot of authors have been doing and on top of being super empowering it’s much less competitive to get your book out there. But be warned this is one of the most difficult things that you will have to do.
Going back to that young adult steampunk high fantasy zombie romance novel, if none of the publishers here want to print it you will have to look into self-publishing and there are two ways to do it. You can either print it yourself or publish it as an eBook.
When it comes to printing the initial investment (mostly for printing) is one of the biggest commitments that you will have to make so this is something that you need to consider. If you’re okay with doing this you need to first start off with creating a sellable item. The book cover design, typography of the pages, and formatting are some of the most important components of the book so you need to take your time with this and design these components well. Getting an ISBN number for your book is also very important if you are planning on printing it.
Once the basic designing and paperwork is done it’s time to look into printing the book. Going paperback is the most cost-efficient way to do things but you need to find a printer that you can work with.
Living in the age of the internet and smartphones getting your story out there has never been easier. With platforms like Amazon anyone can publish an eBook but you need to do it the right way.
An attractive front cover and good typography is crucial for your book to perform well on devices and ebook platforms. Once you have this figured out, register on the platform of your choosing and you’re on your way. Here’s a good tutorial on how to publish on Amazon.
That’s not the end of it
Getting your book printed or having it published online is not the end of your work. In one way this is when things get tough. Once you have an actual product with you it’s time to sell it!
As an author, you are as much a part of the book’s brand as anything else and it’s up to you to get the word out. Now, I know that no one wants to that person who is constantly promoting their work but it’s something you have to do and if you do it the right way the results can be worth it.
Learn a little bit of marketing and get your hands dirty. Social media is a great way to start promoting your work but you should also get out there and make some noise.
There you have it! A guide to publishing a book in Sri Lanka. This is obviously going to be a challenging process but it can also be one of the best things you will ever do.