I recently received an email from a reader with who wanted to know what his next step in the self-publishing process should be. In the course of our email exchange I realized he was more than a little confused about what his options are…and rightly so. There are a ,lot of options out there.

Maybe some of you have some of the same questions.

Where do I Start?

The first level consists of going to your local print shop. You can even opt for your local FedEx Office store, Office Max, etc. When selecting this option you will need to understand one thing: They are in the printing business. They will reproduce what you give them. They will bind what you give them. And they will in all likelihood do a very good job. The will probably put your pages and the cover stock in a large printing system like a Xerox DocuTech 8160 or maybe even a Heidelberg Digimaster 9110 and the finished product will come out bound, trimmed, and ready to go. And like I said, they will do a good job.

But I don’t recommend it.

Printers don’t always employ editors, so what you give them is what they will reproduce. Misteaks and awl. And those printers who do go the extra mile still don’t edit on the same level as a professional publishing industry editor. Printers are great for advertising materials, but you need more than printing services if you want to publish a book.

You need a publisher or a self-publishing company.

If you’re technologically savvy,  you might be comfortable with a company like Lulu.com or CreateSpace . For example, CreateSpace doesn’t charge upfront fees, but you will have to pay for any additional services like copy editing and design layout. The upside, you have more control. The downside, the more services you need for your book, the more it will cost.

The next level is what we will call  “assisted self-publishing.” The going rate for “assistance” can be as low as $400 and can go as high as $15,000.

For your $400 you get help in creating a cover and getting a copyright and ISBN number. And you’ll get one paperback copy of your finished book, and an e-book distributed on the Kindle and  Nook platforms as well as availability on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

At the $15,000 level you get content editing and copy editing, indexing, citations and footnotes (if needed), and promotions like book trailers, and placement in Google searches. Plus you will generally receive 150 paperback and 50 hardback copies of your book. I have purposely not listed the names of the two prominent companies which offer these services because one in particular has a spotty track record when it comes to working with their authors. But I’m sure you can find them if you are diligent. And to be fair, some people have used them as a viable option with good results.

Then there are self-publishing companies like ACW Press. An arm of the American Christian Writers, ACW Press (and many other such reputable companies) offer full service publishing features  including full color custom designed covers, professional editing for spelling, grammar, and style, an ISBN number and bar code, and a free web site for your book, all of which is included in the price. And most of these companies work closely with the author to make sure the book is the best it can be.

And while you are deciding on what type of company to use, do you want hardback, paperback, eBooks, or some combination of all three? Can the company you are looking at provide everything you need at a price you can afford? These are questions you must ask before you  ever ask for a quote.

Should I Self-Publish or use POD?

Aha! That’s a trick question. As we have discussed previously, POD (Print on Demand) is a METHOD of publishing. It’s like saying, “Should I write this with a pencil or a ballpoint pen?” Either way, you’re going to put the information into a readable form. So POD is the way the publisher gets the words on the paper as is offset and other publishing methods. With POD, however, it is not necessary to produce large print runs. You can order as many or as few books as you need.

Is Self-Publishing Worth the Expense and the Work?

I don’t know. It’s your book.

Why is There a Copy of Your Book On the Right Hand Side of the Page?

Because I really want you to click on the cover and buy a copy.

Or two.

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Comments
  1. Thomas, Great thoughts on self-publishing. Since it’s what I do, may I add one more recommendation? Many freelance editors are available who aren’t connected to the publishing service a writer may use when self-publishing. There are many good ways, and cost-efficient ways, to improve your book before self-publishing.

    • Thomas Smith says:

      Excellent point. When I revisit the topic in the future I’ll make sure to include. In fact, an outside editor can be a great benefit when submitting a manuscript to a royalty paying publisher.

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