1. What are my intentions? Do you want to a) sell your book to family, friends, and colleagues or b) market the book on a national level? If you answer “a,” then self-publishing is the way to go. For “b” answers, try either getting an agent, querying a traditional small press, or a combination of both. You can re-publish a self-published book by changing the name, some of the text, getting a new ISBN number (that’s another article), and finding the right traditional press. Self-publishing is quick and easy. Traditional publishing will take about a year, in order to line up book reviewers, have them read and write reviews, and submit the information to publications, such as Publishers Weekly.
2. Is my book salable? This question is probably the one authors spend the least amount of time thinking about, yet it appears to be the most important question of all. You will need outside opinions from professionals in the field—not your best friend’s sister. Listen to what they have to say. All authors believe their book is salable. The truth is, many are not. For those who hire an agent to represent them, a major publishing house will accept only 2%, while 98% are rejected. Those odds aren’t very encouraging. Yet, Steven King beat them and so did the author of the Harry Potter series–once her manuscript was retrieved from the trash.
3. How will the book be marketed? This depends on the way you choose to publish it. In general, self-publishing companies make their revenue from your dollars. You pay to get published. Companies differ as far as the extent they will market your book. Ask questions and read all the fine print before signing anything. In general, self-publishers place their books in on-line bookstores, not on shelves. Without the proper marketing, potential purchasers won’t know it exists. A traditional press will not charge you to publish your book and will do all the marketing for you. They make their money from royalties. They place the books on actual bookshelves, as well as on-line. Either way, you may have to pay separately for editing and illustration.
4. Who is my audience? You must know to whom you are selling or marketing. A traditional publisher won’t take you on as an author, if a large enough audience for the book doesn’t exist. Even if you go the self-publishing route, you don’t want to dish out dollars if the book isn’t going to sell. Figure out whom you want to sell to and why they want to buy it.
5. What is my budget and which is the best way to go? Most self-publishing companies will have different packages available to choose from. A lot of them run specials throughout the year. Regular rates vary from about $500 and up. Lulu.com will self-publish for free but doesn’t supply any copies. You need to purchase them and that can quickly add up to a lot of money. Add in editing, illustration, and marketing fees, and suddenly, you’re in the four-figure range.
Do as much research as you can before signing any papers or handing over any money. If the company is new or unfamiliar, search the Internet by combining the name of the company with the word, “scam” or “reviews” and see what pops up. That one action alone could you save you a lot of money and heartache later on.
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- Considering Self-Publishing? Don’t Bother, Unless You Follow Guy Kawasaki’s Advice (forbes.com)
- Self-publishing a book: 25 things you need to know (reviews.cnet.com)
- 5 Simple Tips On How To Choose A Publisher (selfpubadvocate.wordpress.com)
- How To Publish A Book (chooseyourpublisher.com)