Questions to Ask Yourself About Publishing
What are my goals in getting my book in print (or as an e-book)?
Getting a book published will require many hours of work and even more work to sell the book once it is published. Think about what you’re willing to sacrifice in time and money to achieve your goal.
Should I self-publish, get an agent, or submit my ideas directly to a publisher?
Have you truly immersed yourself in the writing culture? This is an important step. Have you attended writing workshops? Given readings of your poetry, short stories, etc.? Have you blogged your ideas? Joined a writing group? Are you engaged with other people doing similar things? Agents and publishers are more likely to find you if you’re actively engaged in the writing culture.
If you’re interested in seeing your book in print, sharing it with friends and family, and selling locally, then self-publishing may be for you.
There are hundreds of self-publishing companies out there. There are also many author services companies. Research and decide what works best for you. An excellent resource is Daniel Poynter’s The Self-Publishing Manual (1568601425) and Mark Levine's The Fine Print of Self-Publishing: A Primer on Contracts, Printing Costs, Royalties, Distribution, E-Books, and Marketing (1626525358)
How much is it going to cost to get my book into print?
It depends—on the length, design elements (color, artwork, photos), type of paper the book is printed on, and the number of copies printed. As a rule of thumb, be prepared to spend between $1,000 and $5,000 to get copies of your book printed.
While it’s true that the more copies you print, the less the per book cost is, unless you have potential buyers waitingto purchase your book, 500 copies is a lot of books to print.
What do I need to do to get my manuscript ready to be printed?
You can prepare your manuscript as a Word document to begin. Once the manuscript has been revised and is in final form, the Word files will need to be imported into a design software template so any artwork or photos can be inserted and the pages can be laid out in a final page size for your book. Then .pdf files can be created from the final paged text to send to the printer.
You will need to decide what the cover of your book should look like. Will it have a photo or art image? What other information should be on the front and back covers? You will need to secure an ISBN number so a bar code can be created for the back cover (and so your book will be registered with Books in Print). The ISBN number will also appear on the copyright page.
What if I want to do an e-book instead?
Consider Smashwords. It is an e-book publishing and distribution platform and all you will need is your Word files. Smashwords returns 85% of net sales to the author.
If you’d be happy with limited distribution of your e-book, you can post pdfs of your book on your website and let people download from there.