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You’ve probably heard the stories: writers who submit their manuscripts to publishers and get nothing but depressing rejection notices. It’s happened to even the most notorious authors, including Stephen King and J.K. Rowling. So if your heart is set on seeing your name in print, should you give up the dream? No way.
Today, thanks to new technologies, self-publishing is a good option for many would-be authors. A book in your name can be a great marketing tool that helps you build your brand and your credibility. Companies like Lulu (www.lulu.com), CreateSpace (www.createspace.com) and Blurb (www.blurb.com) offer tools and services that make publishing your own book simple and affordable.
Print on demand (POD) publishers take a lot of the risk and expense out of publishing. They print your book in small quantities–when someone orders a copy–so neither writer nor publisher is forced into buying a lot of books and having to hawk them.
There are four main steps to self-publishing a book:
Self-publishing companies can help you with each of the four steps. You can purchase all these services or go a la carte, selecting only those that you need. Keep in mind that for the most part, when you go the self-publishing route, you will be responsible for generating sales.
If you’re looking beyond simply seeing your name in print and hope to make money or build your career off your book, upscale publishing companies that act in a consulting role will take you on as a new author if they feel your manuscript has merit. They help to make sure your book is top quality in terms of written content and also gets the visibility necessary to make it sell.
These publishers often require a sizeable investment by the writer, ranging from $10,000-$50,000. Before signing on the dotted line, be sure to ask the tough questions like:
How does the publisher make its money? Is it from what they charge writers to edit and print their book or is it from book sales? If the answer is “both,” be sure to get clarification in terms of percentages.
Is their focus on editing the book or on marketing/distribution? If it’s on editing, and usually it is, then you’re paying for them to help you create a better quality book. However, that doesn’t do much for you in terms of sales if they don’t have the know-how, contacts or means to better market your book than you do.
Ask them for some examples of books that they’ve marketed. How many sales did they make? How did they market the book to generate those sales? You want be sure they did much more than help the author create a website or write a press release or two. You want to know that they have the industry contacts and distribution channels to get your book noticed.
Finally, there’s one more self-publishing option that deserves your consideration. Rather than publishing a hard copy of your book, might an e-book better serve your objectives? An electronic book offered as a PDF download from the web has minimal design costs and no production and printing costs. That means, nearly every book you sell is pure profit.
You can also get an e-book published and selling much more quickly than a traditional book. Plus, you still have the option of modifying it and updating it as you receive reader feedback.
E-books are becoming increasingly popular. People are comfortable reading books on their computer screens. And with more e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle coming to market, e-books are rapidly gaining traction.
You can even first publish your book electronically and then later, if the book is proving to be a success, proceed to publish a hard-copy version.
Step back and take a look at your publishing objectives. Never before have there been so many choices for prospective authors. Consider all your options, and then take action to transform your book from a far-fetched dream to a proudly-published reality.
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