Over the years many people have asked me how to publish a book, and there are 2 main ways. You can get a literary agent, who will then shop it around to major publishers. Or, you can publish it yourself. I have experience publishing both ways. After getting a big-time book deal with a major publisher at age 26, I was sued by my book agent. Yeah, it was about as awesome as it sounds. (Long story, but lesson learned: Never sign a contract without hiring an attorney.) Deeply scarred by the experience, I became a Learning Annex stalker, signing up for seminars across the USA on the topic of writing and self-publishing. Finally after 2 years of publishing obsession, 3,000 books arrived at my office in 2005. They sold…fast! So I published a second edition in 2007. Later I licensed the rights to DK Publishing, and the same book I self-published will be released via Pearson Education later this year.
Publishing yourself and working with a major publisher are both challenging in their own ways. In another post I can get deeper into this, but for now I wanted to give people who have decided to self-publish a general idea how to do it, complete with individuals that I recommend hiring for the project. While the bullet points below will help get you going, also read a book called “The Self-Publishing Manual” by Dan Poynter. Dan is an awesome guy – I have seen him speak several times and his book was my bible for about 2 years. I was a sweaty-palmed wreck when I got to meet him back in 2004, because I idolized him so much. He often speaks at The Learning Annex and similar programs like that around the world. Knowledge is power, and this entire process will go smoother (and you’ll save money) if you can speak the language of self-publishing and get things right the first time.
So here’s the basic 3 steps to getting a book published on your own…
STEP #1: EDIT – After your manuscript is done, send it to a trusted editor. My friend Nancy Colasurdo was my editor, and she is based in Hoboken, NJ. She’s a columnist for FoxNews.com, a life coach and a writer…not to mention an amazing person. Nancy wrote a piece about me for Ladies Home Journal, which is why I thought to ask her to edit my book. (You may do the same, if you really liked how a journalist wrote about you in the past. Your editor needs to “get you.”) For the sake of the people who will read your book, do not skip this step. Typos suck. Contact Nancy via her website: http://nancola.com
STEP #2: DESIGN – My book was designed by Peri Poloni Gabriel. She’s been designing books for years, is super professional and based in Naperville, IL. Please note – a graphic designer is not the same as a book designer! Book designers know exactly how to format the book cover and interior to meet the specifications of publishers. Peri can hook you up with UPC codes and ISBN numbers, which is a total pain to do on your own. I recommend getting a UPC and ISBN # even if you don’t plan to sell it in stores in the immediate future. You never know if you might be interested in getting it distributed down the line, and having both are essential if you go that route. Contact Peri via her website: http://knockoutbooks.com or call 630-718-0861.
STEP #3: PRINT – I used Sandy Gould at Color House Graphics in Michigan to print both editions of my book, after researching this excessively. They were fast, reliable and reasonably priced. When you’re ready to pull the trigger, you’ll also need to submit a RFQ (request for quotation), which basically explains what you’re looking for in regards to paper stock, book size, number of pages, etc. Refer to Dan’s Self-Publishing Manual for examples of RFQs. Contact Sandy at the Color House Graphics website: http://colorhousegraphics.com or call 800-454-1916.
Hope this helps some aspiring authors out there…it’s not easy, but you can do it! And I can tell you, it’s a very proud moment when those big boxes arrive from the publisher. I wept when mine were delivered. Seriously.
Click here if you’d like to buy a copy of my book Girls Fight Back! The College Girl’s Guide to Protecting Herself. Books purchased will be autographed by me personally, making each copy worth millions of dollars on eBay. *LOL*