The ideas have been ruminating for months, maybe years. Perhaps it’s an item to check off of your bucket list. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided 2020 is your year. It’s the right time … to write that book
You know what you want to do, but don’t know where to begin. Traditional publishing means sending query letters in hopes that someone will become your agent or publish your book. That option can mean months of waiting, and a possible loss of control of your content. While a viable option, it’s not what you had in mind. Then inspiration strikes … why not self-publish, on your own terms, from start to finish.
Self-publishing is a growing phenomenon. When properly researched to find a way that works for you, it can provide the ideal outlet to get your message to the masses. To self-publish means “to publish (a book) by using the author’s own resources”, according to Merriam-Webster.com. Bowker.com states that more than one million books were self-published in 2017.
“It’s getting tougher and tougher to get published by mainstream publishers,” states author Milton J. Davis. “You have to go through a vetting process with agents and editors.”
Having published more than 20 works, he opted to take a path that he believed would be receptive to his message. Before he could become a prolific author, or help others publish their books, he had to take the same steps that you can take to publish your book. He had to begin at the beginning. And so can you.
Step 1: Write The Manuscript
You may have an idea in mind, but you need to formulate it in a way that makes sense. As with any roadmap, you want to have an idea where you are going before plotting your course.
“First you have to have total clarity on what you want to write and who your audience is,” notes Adjunct Professor Kimyetta Hayden, a self-published author. Her first book, “Mission: Me, An Interactive Bible Study to Draw Closer to Christ” was written specifically to serve as a Bible study for the women at her church. Her goal for writing, therefore, was different than someone who is publishing a book to garner massive sales.
The process of writing a manuscript can mean simply putting the words on paper, or it can include research and outlining your book in detail. The most important part of this process is to start getting the thoughts into a written format.
After solidifying your ideas and the direction of your book, you can go back and tighten it up grammatically and structurally.
Step 2: Edit Your Book
Editing is an all-encompassing process. It can involve formatting the book for the desired size and length. It can include laying out the book, in the way it will be seen by your readers. One of the most critical parts of the editing process is proofreading. This is when you ensure that the spelling and grammar is correct, and that the tone of the book reflects the voice of your audience.
Book editing can include one of these components – or all of them. The more services provided, the higher your cost. “Editing can be expensive,” Milton notes. “You have to find a balance between getting the best job done and what you can afford.” Costs can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars for editing services.
Although you can find a wide range of costs for this area, it’s important not to skimp on the process itself.
“I think that if your book is not edited and proofread very well, then your readers will form an opinion of you that’s not very positive,” Professor Hayden states. “When I read books that are poorly written or there are errors in the book, I don’t finish.”
This is an important point to keep in mind. Lack of professionalism once stigmatized self-published works. However, putting the extra effort and finances into your product can give it the sleek look and feel you desire.
Step 3: Design Your Book Cover
“Once you get (your book) formatted, cover art is a big thing. Cover art is where I would spend most of my time, because 85% of people buy a book based on the cover,” Milton admonishes.
TheBookDesigner.com states that among the principal things to consider when preparing your book cover: make sure the cover clearly reflects the focal message of the book, make the title large, and use a font that’s very easy to read. Simple, yet attractive and engaging are some of the main considerations for book covers. This is another area where costs can vary significantly, depending on the scope of your design project.
Step 4: It’s Printing Time
Deciding how to print your book is a decision worthy of consideration and thorough research.
“I highly recommend that people who are looking to self-publish watch lots and lots of YouTube videos on self-publishing. Especially when it comes to choosing your printer,” Professor Hayden advises. There are a multitude of avenues you can use for publishing, and even a variety of formats.
When choosing a printer there are several factors to keep in mind. Do you simply want to produce a printed book, or do you want to opt for an e-book? What method of distribution are you considering, and why? The way you will make your book available goes back to knowing your audience. Some genres sell better as written literature, while e-books and audiobooks work for others. What is your overall goal in selling your book? If your goal is to garner enough sales to secure a feature traditional publishing deal, that printing and distribution model will look different than if you are more concerned with turning a profit.
Offset printing is a commonly used technique that offers great quality, but is very expensive and requires ordering a large quantity of books. This can be a difficult up-front investment to make. You also need longer lead times to get your products. Print on Demand (POD) can prove more cost-effective, especially for first-time authors who don’t know how well their book will sell. Books are paid for and printed once you receive an order. CreateSpace, Lulu and IngramSpark are a few of the prominent POD providers. What’s more, for a fee, some can become a one-stop shop, providing editing, formatting and cover design options.
Now you’re all done right? Wrong! The fun is just beginning. Marketing and promotions are your job as a self-publisher. You’ve got to get out there and sell, sell, sell!
Self-Publishing Things To Remember
- Your book needs to have an ISBN. Several of the POD companies can provide it for you; however, their ISBN numbers are often exclusive to their company. Bowker.com lets you purchase an ISBN that can be accepted by several outlets.
- Networking is a great way to cut down on costs. Barter skills with other professionals. Perhaps you are a detailed editor. You could trade services with an artist who may design your cover.
- Places like Fiverr, Facebook and writing groups are also great places to find help.
- Do your research!
- Have fun in the process