Increasingly, we also want things to be “free,” but that’s another blog post.
The same extends to self-publishing. Recently I visited the website of a company that provides services to self-publishers. They had managed to reduce the steps to publish a book down to three easy steps:
- Download their guide to self-publishing.
- Contact one of their publishing consultants.
- Send in your completed manuscript.
It’s THAT easy!
By believing that there are only three steps to self-publishing a book, authors run the risk of spending more money than they planned and producing a book that doesn’t sell. How does this happen? Authors who don’t understand the process or plan ahead also don’t understand the decisions that need to be made—including decisions that have financial implications—thus making them vulnerable to “publishing consultants” eager to sell them services that authors didn’t know they needed. We all know that when we put ourselves in situations that require snap and ill-informed decisions, things usually end badly.
As a service to our customers, we say right up front that there are six steps to self-publishing. Once your manuscript is finished, you can expect the following:
- Design your book cover: Create a cover that is unique, not based on a template, sends a positive message about your book, and stands out amongst your competitors.
- Edit your manuscript: A copy edit? Substantive edit? An editorial evaluation by a professional editor will tell you how much editing is required.
- Design the book interior pages and typeset the book: Create a readable and professional interior for your book. Have it professionally typeset; don’t try and learn the software and no, Microsoft Word is not a design program.
- Proof your book after typesetting: One of the most overlooked steps, silly errors can derail the most wonderful of books. Can you say “auto correct?”
- Arrange book printing and distribution: Where will you sell your book (Amazon, bookstores, from your home or business, conferences)? Will you have a website? Will you print hard copies of your book in addition to print-on-demand?
- Market your book: Putting your book on Amazon is only the beginning. Now you need to let people know about your book and get reviews. If your book is more than a hobby or a vanity piece, you should have plans in place to generate revenues through selling your book.
In truth, there is a step before step one, but it’s a big and scary step so most authors don’t like to do it, even though doing so will help you figure out how you’re going to accomplish the six steps listed above, and in so doing, makes the rest of the steps less difficult. And that step is Planning. Good plans have defined goals, and as we say in this blog post about planning your book project, it all starts with you recognizing that YOU are the publisher in control of your project, and your first task as publisher is to set goals for what you want to accomplish with your book.
So, just as offers for “free” should cause you to be suspicious, promises that something is “easy” should arouse the same misgivings, especially when it comes to making your book a success.