The second-most common New Year’s resolution is to publish a book, and that’s a lot less fraught than the most common, which is to lose weight. Now, with the advent of Web 2.0 and digital print-on-demand technology, at least accomplishing one of your top New Year’s resolutions is almost … easy! Here’s how you can do it.
1 : Identify your goals
Is your goal to make a lot of money or to find a lot of readers? Perhaps your goal is more modest – to have a book that you can share with family and friends, or to have a book that shares a certain belief or experience. By identifying your goals early, you can increase your chances of choosing the right publishing path to meet them.
2 : Identify your weaknesses
Publishing a book is different from writing one; it is a business rather than an art. Unless you have the technical and financial know-how (or the patience, time, and money to absorb the learning curve) you will be better off having a company publish your book for you rather than trying to do it yourself.
3 : Investigate your publishing options
There are three main roads to publication:
- Traditional publication, where a publishing company accepts your book and purchases the rights to it in exchange for an advance on book royalties. You will still be required to market your own book.
- Independent self-publishing, where you keep the rights to your book and undergo the arduous task of starting a publishing company on your own in order to print, distribute, and market it.
- Full-service self-publishing with a print-on-demand company, where you keep the rights to your book and pay experts to perform the publishing tasks for you, although you are still required to market it yourself.
4 : Recognize the advantages and disadvantages of traditional publishing
The main advantage to traditional publication is that they pay you for your book up-front. However, that is also their disadvantage; since traditional publishers take a financial risk on each book they publish, they often only accept books by celebrities or from authors who have already published previous books successfully.
5 : Recognize the advantages and disadvantages of independently self-publishing
The advantage of independently self-publishing your book is that you retain your rights and all the control to your book. The disadvantage is that it is time-consuming and very risky to self-publish a book by yourself, due to the up-front financial investment. Distributors rarely work with one-time authors, so once you have books printed, you may find it challenging to move them from your garage and into the hands of readers.
6 : Recognize the advantages and disadvantages of full service self-publishing via POD.
The majority of new authors self-publish their books through a print-on-demand publishing company. Like independent self-publishing, full service self-publishing authors keep their rights. Another advantage is that the financial investment is much lower (usually less than $1,000). The disadvantage is that POD books share the same marketing hurdles as independently self-published books – getting into the hands of readers is a challenge, although most full-service companies typically include wholesale distribution and online listings with major e-retailers to assist the author in getting started.
7 : Just do it
Your manuscript will not publish itself, so the last tip is the most important. You have to be motivated to reach for your dreams. To publish your book traditionally, buy the latest edition of The Writer’s Market for contact information of nearly every mainstream publisher. To independently self-publish your book by yourself, buy the latest edition of The Self-Publishing Manual for the financial models and technical specifications you will need to adhere to. To publish through a full-service print-on-demand book publishing company, read Self Publishing Simplified. (All three books can be purchased via Amazon.com.)
8 : Revisit #1 — check in on your goals!
There is literally no more important point for any of us writers to internalize than the injunction to simply take the plunge. There’s no one point and no one step to follow in order to become the successful, published author that you want to be. There’s nothing easy about the process of publication, whether you choose to pursue the traditional route, self-publish, or work with a full-service print on demand (POD) publishing company like Outskirts Press. But the only step that you can’t ultimately do without is the step where you actually choose to push your foot into the soil and get started.
I guess what I mean to say is: “Just do it” may seem like a deceptively simple thing to say, but it’s actually both the difficult and the most vital for authors to buy into. Whatever it takes for you to get yourself there, to take the plunge, I just want to encourage you: You can do it. You have the strength, and the resourcefulness, and the capacity for excellence. If you’re feeling paralyzed by fear or a lack of information, take things one step at a time go back to #1. It’s not failure to have to start over! And it’s definitely useful to recenter yourself and your project every now and then. What’s the next thing you need? Is it a recommendation from a friend? Is it time? Is it the energy to face something new and complicated? Baby steps. You’ll get there, I promise. And I for one can’t wait to see what you bring into the world in 2018!
You are not alone. ♣︎