Many people are overwhelmed by the idea of book publishing. But the steps to self publish a book are really quite simple. You have to figure out what you’re going to write, write the book, and then create the finished printed product.
To self publish, you follow these steps:
1. Determine who will read the book. Plenty of books are published, but many don’t sell. People read books to solve problems or to be entertained. It’s not worth going to the effort of writing a book that has no audience. Figure out who will read the book before you write the book. Ideally you want to write a book with an audience that you can reach easily. Are there magazines or trade associations for your target audience? If so, that’s a good sign.
2. Create a marketing plan or book proposal for your book. Yes, even when you self-publish, you should write a book proposal. Go to the library and get a few books on writing book proposals. It will force you to think again about whether your book is worth writing and details like how it will be printed and distributed.
3. Research your subject. After you have determined who will read the book, you need collect information you already have together and then do any necessary research. Once you have the information compiled, you can begin organizing material and writing the book.
4. Hire editorial professionals. Every book needs an editor. As the author, you are not that person. Once your manuscript is complete, hire a professional to edit it. If you are not a graphic artist, also consider hiring people to help you with the production of the book.
5. Purchase ISBNs. R.R. Bowker, Inc. (isbn.org) is the official source for ISBNs in the United States. Spend the money and get your ISBNs from them. Don’t bother with any of the add-ons or up sells. It’s best to buy at least a block of 10. Any book that is distributed in the book trade must have an ISBN. To be listed on online sites such as Amazon.com, you must have an ISBN. If you do not buy the ISBN, you are not the publisher of record, and you are not truly self-publishing.
6. Give your files to the printer. In our case, we use Lightning Source, which gets our books into the Ingram database and distributed onto sites like Amazon.com and BN.com. However, there are good reasons to use other printers. The best choice depends on the goals and marketing plan you have outlined for your book.
7. Market the book. Producing the book is only the beginning. Book marketing is a huge topic, so again, head to the library and learn more. Go back to the plan you created in Step 2 and expand on it. As a self-publisher, you decide how long your book stays in print, so you could be marketing it for years to come.
To actually self publish, you must commit yourself to the project. It doesn’t have to be particularly difficult or expensive, but it does take time and effort.