To begin with, I can only tell you what I've learned about publishing in my personal experience. I have written seven books (ten if you count second editions), but that does not make me an expert in anyone's estimation. And, I don't write about writing all the time. I have author friends who do just that, and I enjoy reading their blogs and articles, and I thank them, for I have gleaned helpful information along the way. I will advise you to seek out those books and websites that can offer you some ideas before you seek to publish.
When I decided to write my first novel in 2005, I did not know anyone personally who could tell me how to get my first book published. I had been a classroom teacher for many years, always having that dream of writing but never having the time to do so. I walked away and began writing. While in the process, I turned to the internet to do research, and I found that there are scam publishers, just like there are scams for just about every endeavor. So, my first piece of advice is to do your research. I would recommend www.ChristianWriters.com as a resource if you want to write inspirational fiction. I wish I had known about this marvelous site when I started. It offers discussion forums, advice, links, critiques, a myriad of helps for new and newly published writers. Also, Jerry B. Jenkins' Christian Writers Guild (www.christianwritersguild.com) offers writing courses, manuscript critiques, etc. This organization has an impressive list of mentors who are experts in the fields of writing and publishing.
Realize that your writing just might not be as good as it can be right now, but you can improve it with practice. But it probably isn't as bad as some of the published books out there. Just be willing to write and rewrite. I have spent hours rewriting a single chapter. HOWEVER, I read some great advice on a published author's website: Get it all down on paper, not worrying about sentence structure, punctuation, etc. You can go back later and rewrite (and believe me, you will). When you're on a roll, keep it flowing.
Here are some tidbits I've picked up, and I hope they help:
1. Google your favorite authors. Their personal websites offer writing tips, and they are much more experienced than I.2. Please don't ask me or another author to critique your manuscript for you. There are several reasons for this, and they are not that we are mean, selfish, or unwilling to help. We simply don't have time to do that (you have no idea how many people have asked me to edit their efforts!), and you should get a good copy editor or trusted friend to read through it and critique it for you. Realize, however, that some friends often don't wish to hurt your feelings--but on the other hand, they can be more honest than others, too. Send your manuscript off to publishers who still accept them (few do, nowadays, preferring to go through an agent), but only after you've researched and narrowed down to those who share your values.
3. There are all types of publishing, and I have relied heavily on Wikipedia to give the information below. To get in-depth information, google the types of publishing listed and research them thoroughly:
- self publishing - you absorb all the costs and plan to market the book entirely yourself, and to expand upon that idea, Wikipedia says: "Self-publishing is the publication of any book or other media by the author of the work, without the involvement of an established third-party publisher. The author is responsible and in control of entire process including design (cover/interior), formats, price, distribution, marketing & PR. The author can do it all themselves or outsource all or part of the process to companies that offer these services such as Lulu, iUniverse, CreateSpace and a multitude of others";
- traditional publishing - keep in mind that the "big houses" of publishing no longer accept manuscripts (see above). They do not charge authors anything to publish books. Once you receive a contract, it is usually two or three years before your book is published. Wikipedia: "Many book publishing companies around the world maintain a strict 'no unsolicited submissions' policy and will only accept submissions via a literary agent. This shifts the burden of assessing and developing writers out of the publishing company and onto the literary agents. At these companies, unsolicited manuscripts are thrown out, or sometimes returned, if the author has provided pre-paid postage. Established authors are often represented by a literary agent to market their work to publishers and negotiate contracts. Literary agents take a percentage of author earnings (varying between 10 - 15 per cent) to pay for their services";
- subsidy publishing - Wikipedia states: "Vanity or subsidy presses usually require payment by authors, or a minimum purchase of copies." (Most writing blogs and websites caution writers to avoid these);
- e-book publishing - "an electronic book (variously, e-book, ebook, digital book) is a book-length publication in digital form, consisting of text, images, or both, and produced on, published through, and readable on computers or other electronic devices. Sometimes the equivalent of a conventional printed book, e-books can also be born digital. The Oxford Dictionary of English defines the e-book as 'an electronic version of a printed book,' but e-books can and do exist without any printed equivalent. E-books are usually read on dedicated e-book readers. Personal computers and some mobile phones can also be used to read e-books" (Wikipedia);
- independent publishing (indie) - Wikipedia states "The terms 'small press,' 'indie publisher,' and 'independent press' are often used interchangeably, with 'independent press' defined as publishers that are not part of large conglomerates or multinational corporations. Defined this way, these presses make up approximately half of the market share of the book publishing industry. Many small presses rely on specialization in genre fiction, poetry, or limited-edition books or magazines, but there are also thousands that focus on niche non-fiction markets.
I hope this information is helpful. Now, decide how you want to publish and go for it!