You have a great book or manuscript but can’t seem to get anyone’s attention in the publishing field or you have great skills in writing but can’t market yourself for your life. You could have had bad experiences with publishers before or just want to hoard all of the profits for your book sales instead of giving them to your publisher. In any of these cases, self-publishing may be your best option to get your masterpiece out to the masses.
With today’s internet and printing technology, there is no reason why great thoughts or ideas should be trapped in a manuscript on your desk. There are options out there to allow you to produce your own books at very little or no start-up cost to you. If that sounds hard to believe, start believing. You could have your very own book in front of you in a matter of days and have it available in the world’s biggest marketplace in a matter of weeks.
There are a few things to consider when taking the small plunge into self-publishing and they are to:
• Perfect your creation
• Find an ideal printer
• Give the world access to your book
• Revel in your published status
Just four steps and you can be a published author. It doesn’t seem too scary or difficult, and it’s not. So, let’s get started!
Perfect your creation
In order to finalize your masterpiece you should consider hiring or recruiting a friend as a proofreader and a graphic designer for layout and cover art. When you’ve finished writing or even before, you should get at least one other pair of eyes on your creation. Though others may not share your vision, it’s important to have someone else read every word of your book for typos and ideas that aren’t conveyed clearly. The more proofreaders you have the better. If all goes well, you could have thousands of people reading your book, but if your friends can’t get through the first chapter because there are too many typos or incoherent thoughts, a complete stranger is going to have a much more difficult time.
If you know a graphic designer that is willing to layout your book and cover, then great! You need something fairly catchy on the cover and something easy to read through for the rest of the book. As for the cover, you have less than four seconds to catch the buyer’s attention and a great cover will go far in doing that. When you’re self-publishing you may be offered template covers that hundreds of other authors have chosen. Fight the urge to go the easy route and get an original cover. Even stock photography will serve you better than a template cover and you can find decent stock photography for print at very reasonable prices (see iStockPhoto.com).
Find an ideal printer
There are thousands of book printers (here are some) across the country with every variety of service and product to help you attain the book you’re envisioning. Some things to consider when you’re looking into printers are the cost per book, the minimum copies requirement, the dimensions available for print, and the fulfillment requirement.
A good price per book depends on the length of the book (most printers will charge a setup fee and a couple cents per page). A 200-page book shouldn’t run you more than $3. If you are working with a company that charges more than that, you are probable not dealing with a printer, but a third party (like lulu.com) that just sends your work to the printer. These companies are taking money from your sales for something you can do just as easily. Don’t let them fool you- you are being ripped off if you go through a third party.
Some printers require that you order a certain amount of books in order to give them business. You can easily avoid this type of agreement in today’s Print-On-Demand world. Companies like Lightning Source are print on demand companies that offer great services with no minimum copy amount.
The most common book size within the self-publishing realm is 6″x9″ but most printers can offer you alternative sizes. An unusual size may give your book a slight advantage over the ubiquitous 6″x9″ books.
If the printer you’re working with can give you the desired cost and settings for the book, they may also provide free or inexpensive fulfillment. Unless you want to store 3000 books in your garage, you may find the fulfillment option appealing. Once you or someone else orders your book, some printers may send it directly from their warehouse or printer.
Give the world access to your book
Once you have a marketable book, you should look into giving access to bookstores, libraries, and consumers. This is done by obtaining an ISBN and a barcode for use in bookstores and getting your title in the regularly updated Books In Print. An ISBN is a unique 13-digit identification number that anyone can use to look your book up through the wholesale system and the barcode allows the scanners at any bookstore get title, author, and price information. Though most printers do not offer the ISBN or barcode service, you can obtain those for small prices at various outlets like CoDe Publishing.
Once you’ve made your book available for access, it would help to get it out there in the market. There are a number of online retailers that will post your publications at no charge. Amazon will allow you to sell your book on their zShops if you become a seller pro ($39.99 a month). Websites like Google offer search-inside-the-book functions and links to where you can purchase the book. The Google service is free.
If you’d like to get your book in your friendly neighborhood bookstore, you should contact the manager in charge of community relations. If a bookstore can order your books through the Ingram Wholesale network and has the option to return the books (see your printer for information about returns), it’s likely that they will give your book a shot. It helps however if you’re willing to put some effort into selling the books. A book signing that will draw crowds into their store is a helpful tool to encourage them to pick up your book.
Revel in your published status
With these steps taken care of, you will be able to enjoy your new status as published author. You will be able to go into most bookstores across the country and ask them to order your book. You can take pride in beholding your publication and knowing that anyone with the desire can get to your wealth of knowledge.