How To Be A Self-Published Author
Introduction | Self-Publishing Options – Part 1 | Self-Publishing Options – Part 2 | Self-Publishing Options – Part 3 | Why Self-Publishing Is Worth Doing | Creating A Manuscript | Critiques Are Painful But Necessary | Book Illustrations | A Cover That Sells | Self-Publishing Through Lightning Source | Self-Publishing Through CreateSpace | Finally A Book!
UPDATE April 2015: The online world is continually changing and what was ‘current’ in 2009, is old news now. I have linked to the book on Amazon so that you can use their ‘Look Inside’ feature to see the layout of the print book as well as the Table of Contents. Not everything in the book is included here but you can probably get most of the information you need through this website.
There are many steps involved in publishing a book whether a major publisher is the one in charge or you’re a self-publisher making the decisions and doing the work. But it’s not rocket science. Today’s technology makes it fairly simple for anyone who has written a book, and who is somewhat computer savvy, to also self-publish it.
How To Be A Self-Published Author: A Step-by-Step Guide provides the steps to self-publish your book whether you use a subsidy publishing house or you do everything yourself. I’ve tried to cut out extraneous information and give information that will allow you to actually have your published book in your bookcase as well as for sale through Amazon.com, other online retailers, and perhaps even brick & mortar booksellers without going broke in the process.
My name is Pat Gaudette and I am a self-published author.
My first book, How To Survive Your Husband’s Midlife Crisis, was co-written with best-selling author Gay Courter, and published in 2003 by The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. The rest of my books I have self-published.
If my first book was accepted and published by a major publishing house, why would I self-publish the rest? The truth is, I presented the idea for my next book to my literary agent and my editor. Neither was interested, so I taught myself how to use online resources to self-publish.
My first efforts weren’t without problems but everything has a learning curve and I kept going until I figured out how to successfully publish that book and the ones that followed. I published five books in the same length of time it took for the midlife book to be published.
The number of manuscripts accepted for publication by major publishing houses continues to dwindle as the number of book authors increases and as the big publishers face economic hard times. With stockholders to please and bottom lines to meet, profit is the goal and always has been.
Rarely do major publishers take chances on unknown authors or unique topics, focusing instead on the guaranteed profit that a proven best-selling author or someone famous or notorious should bring in. And, let’s face it, it takes much more than just writing a Fifty Shades or Harry Potter novel.
So what do the rest of us do? We have a completed manuscript but now what? Do we send it out to publishers and collect reject slips in the hope that one will see its merit, pay us a big advance, publish hundreds of thousands of copies, and send us on an all expenses paid major media blitz? That rarely, if ever, happens.
Even if a publisher is accepting manuscripts for review, they’ll usually want them submitted by a literary agent. Most successful literary agents don’t care to represent an unknown or unpublished author. They also are looking for the guaranteed return for their efforts since they get paid a percentage of whatever their published author earns.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who is able to find a literary agent willing to represent you, your work isn’t over. Your agent will submit your manuscript to potential publishers but there are different submission requirements for fiction and non-fiction.
Fiction is easier to submit since an author can provide a few chapters for the publisher to read to see plot and character development and writing technique. Non-fiction authors must write a book proposal to show how the book will make the publisher money. The book proposal will explain the topic, provide reader demographics and why they need this book, list competing books in print, provide marketing strategies, and include one or two chapters from the manuscript.
Exhausted from trying to get a publisher or agent to see the value in what you’ve written? Ready to do whatever it takes to see your book in print? Now is the time to put on a self-publishing hat and publish it yourself.
As a self-publishing author, I actually wear a lot of hats: writer, editor, typesetter, layout artist, graphic designer. I began acquiring those hats (or skills) when I got into publishing in 1984. No one in our smalll publishing company was computer savvy so we relied on outside services for typesetting, color separations, and cover composition.
We employed two graphic artists who mocked up each page by pasting text and photos onto layout boards. They made negatives of each page and sent them to the printing company who used the negatives to burn plates for the printing press.
Our four-color covers were pasted up in basically the same way then sent to a color separation company for final layout and processing into four sheets of film comprised of black, cyan, magenta and yellow dots. These were also sent to the printer who then burned plates for each color. Once on the press, the plates were jogged so the color dots dropped correctly and the final printed page duplicated the composited page. Sometimes they actually did.
Today, pre-press work is done by computer using various software programs: PageMaker, InDesign, QuarkXPress, Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Word. The manuscript is written in a text editor such as Microsoft Word then imported into publishing software such as PageMaker, InDesign, or QuarkXPress. Graphics created or enhanced in Photoshop are also imported into the layout. Because many printers require press-ready files to be submitted in PDF format, the file is distilled into a PDF using Adobe Acrobat.
What required several people to accomplish years ago can be accomplished today by just one person – taking a book from concept through layout to press-ready electronic files ready for uploading to the printing company who uses them to produce a single book, (if they have POD [print on demand] capabilities), or a quantity of books.
Let me distill my 30 years of publishing experience into the steps you need to know to self-publish your book. If you have a completed manuscript, I’ll show you how to self-publish and actually hold a finished book in your hands in three months, perhaps much less. The more you can do yourself, the less you’ll have to pay someone (like me) to do.