Top 7 Tips for Self-Publishing Your Book in 2009

The second-most common New Year’s resolution is to publish a book (the first 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 Years Resolutions is a snap. 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 strengths and 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:

a) 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.

b) 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.

c) 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. Traditional publishers take all your rights and unless your name is Stephen King, be prepared to market your own book. Surprise! Yes, they take your rights, most of your royalties, and still expect the author to provide the majority of the marketing muscle. Now wonder more and more authors are choosing one of the other two paths…

#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. And just because you’re doing it yourself, doesn’t mean you are doing it correctly. In other words — publishing your book yourself is hard work if you want to do it successfully and correctly.

If you have the money to invest (usually $10,000 or so) and the time to invest (usually 20 hours a week), and the ability (are you an editor, designer, accountant, publicist, and website designer?), then publishing your book independently may be the proper path for you. It’s not just an adventure, it’s a job!

#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) and since self publishing companies typically publish hundreds (if not thousands) of books each year, they really know what they are doing. The disadvantage is that POD books share the same marketing hurdles as independently self-published books – getting your book into the hands of readers is a challenge. The good news is that 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 (and here are the resources to help you)

Your manuscript will not publish itself, so the last tip is the most important. You have to be motivated to reach for your dreams. Regardless of the path you choose, the most important step is the first one.

To publish your book traditionally, buy the latest edition of The Writer’s Market for contact information of nearly every mainstream publisher. If you have a children’s book, the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is a good choice.

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 a black/white book through a full-service print-on-demand book publishing company, read Self-Publishing Simplified. For children’s books, read Adventures in Publishing.

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