Quite often I am asked by authors who are exploring self-publishing: “Where do I start?”
It all starts with you recognizing that you are the publisher; by self-publishing, you are taking on the job of publisher. Would you trust your book to yourself? Are you ready? If so, read on!
Your first task is to determine your goals: what are you trying to accomplish by publishing your book? Identifying your goals will add clarity to your decision-making as a publisher, including how you will print and distribute your book, whether your cover and interior will be designed professionally, how much time you will invest to get reviews, and more. For example, perhaps you are publishing your memoires as a gift to family and friends and have no intention of selling your book at a retail outlet. If so, print-on-demand may or may not be for you, and hiring a professional designer is optional. But, if your book is the cornerstone of your new marketing program, your cover and interior must be professionally designed and typeset, and the book must be thoroughly edited and proofed.
Now that your goals are clear, create a budget. How do you know what expenses you might incur? Here’s a short list of what must be done to publish a book.
- Create a marketing plan
- Choose a book title
- Design the book cover
- Write back cover copy and author bio
- Edit the manuscript
- Design the interior layout
- Choose printing (offset or print-on-demand) and distribution
- Typeset the book
- Proofread the book
- Get reviews
- Create a website, social media strategy, pages on book seller websites
- Carry out your marketing plan
It’s important to know your budget and what you can realistically afford. Depending upon your strengths and skills, you might hire professionals to assist you or undertake some tasks yourself. A realistic skills assessment may be in order; problems tend to arise when you know you require professional assistance to meet your goals, and yet do the opposite and take a “do-it-yourself” approach.
The list begins and ends with two important tasks that seemingly have nothing to do with being an author: marketing. Unless you plan on using your books as doorstops, your marketing plan is as important as writing your book. But with clear goals and a plan to accomplish them, you will have a good chance of success as an independent publisher.