Many people have a dream of becoming a published author. Out of those people, some keep dreaming while others start writing. From those who start writing, even fewer ever see their manuscripts through to completion.
If you’re in that group of people who have completed a final draft and survived the copy editors, the endless tweaks and constant search for typos, you’re probably wondering what the next steps are once you’ve got a finished manuscript.
First Things First
When you have the manuscript done you’ve got a few choices to make. The first is do you want to self-publish or do you want to try to go the route of a traditional publishing house?
Regardless of which one you choose, you’re still going to have to do some investing on your own, whether that investing is with time or money. You’ll also have to take care of your own marketing. Unless you’re already Big Name Author, a publishing house won’t get your book out there for you.
What a publishing house will do for you is take care of designing the cover and the interior of your book, and take a nice little percentage for themselves to play the middleman for the life of your book.
Self-publishing clearly eliminates the middle man, but it also leaves you with having to find the right professionals to design the book, your promotional items and market it.
Can I Do It Myself?
Let’s say you went with the self-publishing. The next thing you have to decide is whether or not you’ll be designing your book yourself or not.
While you were in the process of writing your book, you probably heard people say “Don’t edit your book yourself”. Well, the same could be said for the design of the interior and cover of your book. If you want something to look professional, go to a professional.
Even though I’ve had years of experience with layout and design, I still run into a few glitches here and there. I can’t imagine what it would be like for someone with no layout and design experience at all to try to navigate the waters of self-publishing layout.
Where To Publish
There are many places to self-publish your book, they’re springing up all over the place at an alarming rate. Some will take care of the whole publishing experience for you, offering cover and interior design as a part of a package, and others leave all of that up to you. How much you want to do depends on how much you think you can handle…or afford.
We did some shopping around before we chose a Print On Demand (POD) company. At the top of our list was the quality of the final product. We didn’t want the book to end up looking cheap, or falling apart at the seams after the first read. We also didn’t want to break the bank on the printed version either.
We also wanted to have full control over all aspects of our publishing process, from the purchasing of ISBNs right up to where we sold and what kind of distribution list we were on.
This is why we went with Lightning Source. In addition to producing a quality book, the customer service is excellent. Our account rep Leslie answered all our questions in a timely manner and was always there to talk on the phone when I needed something quick.
Using Lightning Source is not for beginners. If you go this route you will definitely need someone to format your layout and your cover. LS only accepts files in In Design or Quark and the final PDFs have to be processed in a specific manner before they’re uploaded to LS. They won’t accept Word documents, and if you convert straight from Word to PDF and try to get it accepted, there’s no guarantees that will work for you.
There are also several fees involved that you need to be aware of:
- You must purchase your own ISBNs
- File set up fee: one time only
- Ingram Listing: this will get you listed on Amazon, Barnes & Noble
- Ingram catalog: this is what bookstores use to order your book
- Revision fees: Each time you make a change to the base files you will be charged a revision fee
- Proof fee: If you want a proof of your final product (and we strongly advise that you do get one)
Create Space is pretty simple when it comes to actual print books. If you’re a beginner and have a limited budget to do this on your own, then this POD might be for you. They have very detailed style guides and templates for both the interiors of the books and the covers. This is probably the easiest place for someone to publish if they’re determined to do it all on their own. If you don’t want to buy your own ISBN, Create Space will give you one for free. Your account is also free and only includes distribution on Amazon. If you want to be seen in more places than that, you can upgrade to their Pro Plan for a fee.
Unlike Lightning Source, Create Space does not charge a fee for set up, but they do charge for revisions and proofs.
Some additional POD resources are:
Disclaimer: Our only experiences have been with Lightning Source and Create Space. Blue Sun can’t account for the quality or service of the other resources listed.
See For Yourself!
Although I’ve designed many ebooks over the years, our first novel, Bonds of Blood & Spirit: Loyalties, was the first physical hardcover book we produced. In addition to fulfilling a dream, we also wanted the experience of self-publishing. After all, how can we do it for you if we haven’t done it ourselves?
To get your very own hardcover copy of Loyalties and see for yourself the quality of both Lightning Source and Blue Sun, click here to go to our page on Amazon and pick one up for yourself!