HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK
Writing is one of the best ways to make your voice heard, even outside your immediate environment. At one point or the other in your life, you must have read a book by an author from another country. That is the power of writing. But, it was not the writing that got the book into your hands. It’s the publishing. If the author didn’t publish that book, it would be just another manuscript gathering dust. Book publishing is the journey your book takes from you to the reader. Many writers see book publishing as a daunting process involving a lot of time and money. All you need to do is break down the details, and you’ll see how easy it is.
First things first, before sending your book off for publishing, it should go through a process. I’m sure you don’t want to send off a tacky work to your readers. It would help if you had a guide to help you ensure your book is ready for publishing. Check out this checklist you can print for free!
- WRITE: We won’t be talking about publishing if there is no book, right? Put your ideas together and let those words flow onto your pages. Don’t forget to write with your reader in mind.
- EDIT: Edit, edit, I repeat edit! Don’t ever think of sending your work off without combing through it for errors. Book editing is a huge part of the publishing process. Start by sending your manuscript to a beta reader to read and give their feedback. After that, do a structural edit, then a line and copy edit. You should outsource these to professionals if you can afford them. Hire professional editors who can get the job done.
- GATHER FEEDBACK: Collect all feedback and recommendations. Receive them with an open mind. They all have your book’s best interests at heart.
- REWRITE: Apply the recommendations you got and rewrite your story.
- PROOFREAD: Proofreading is the last line of defence in the editing process. It is the last chance you have to detect errors in your book. Your proofreader goes through your work with a fine-toothed comb.
- COVER DESIGN: Create a cover design that converts. Pay attention to elements in your design. A good book cover design should hint at what the book is about without giving too much away. It should also have a focal point.
For no reason should you miss any of these steps. If you’ve checked all the boxes, then your book is ready for publishing. Let’s go.
The word ‘publish’ comes from the Latin word publicare, which means to announce, to make public. So are you thinking of publishing your work? The question you should ask is ‘how do I get this book into as many hands as possible?”
If you were to publish a book today, you’d have two options: traditional publishing or self-publishing. These are the two significant channels of book publishing. Before the internet and e-books, writers had to depend on agents and publishing houses. Traditional publishing was the only option, but not anymore. Now, with an electronic device, you can make your book accessible to millions of people. No one form of publishing is better than the other, but you have to analyze each structure and choose which best suits you.
Traditional publishing is the activity of getting a third party to publish, market, and distribute your book. The process begins with finding a literary agent. An agent represents you and searches for publishers for your work. A literary agent stays with you every step of the way. From managing sales to checking contracts, they are present throughout the publishing process. However, it would be best if you prepared for disappointment when going the traditional publishing route. Yes, you read right. You will be turned down by agents and publishing houses. It is safe to say rejection comes with the territory. And it doesn’t always mean your work is terrible. Sometimes it’s because you’re not what they are looking for. And that is ok. When you finally get signed, it is bliss. Imagine having someone else handle all the nitty-gritty of distribution and marketing. I like the sound of that.
Note that in, the writer earns royalties from the book’s sales in traditional publishing, usually between 5-15%. But, the publisher mainly owns the rights to the book.
Self-publishing is when the writer handles the whole process of publishing including managing, printing, marketing, and distributing the work. In this kind of publishing, there is no third-party involvement. The author also uses the aid of electronic devices. Most self-published books are usually in e-book forms. Imagine not having to go through the emotional rollercoaster of acceptance and denial by agents and publishers. You do your thing without interference. However, publishing yourself can be more costly than going the traditional route.
To self-publish, you need to register with a self-publishing platform. There are two divisions of these platforms: retailers and aggregators. The difference between them is that while one sells directly from their retail outlet, the other markets and distributes to other outlets. A recommended platform is Kindle Direct Publishing. After registering, format your book. You should hire a professional to help you format your book so it doesn’t look tacky and earn bad reviews. Then it is time to publish! The final step is marketing. You need to figure out ways to create awareness for your book that will lead to sales. And that is it. You’re published.
TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING VS SELF PUBLISHING
While some authors can afford to publish their work both ways, others prefer to stick with one. But, whichever one you choose, you need to be sure your decision is informed. You don’t want any surprises along the way. So, let us look at the two side by side.
- Finance: Money is one of the primary determiners when it comes to deciding how to publish. In traditional publishing, the publishers bear all costs. They relieve the writer of the financial burdens that come with book publishing. Self-publishing, on the other hand, depends solely on the author to bear the financial requirements. Have you made a decision yet? Well, not so fast. You should also know that authors who use traditional publishers only get royalties from book sales, and they are not so great. We’re talking 5-15%. In comparison, self-published authors get to keep all the returns from sales.
- Publishing pace: If you need your book published ASAP, you should not go the traditional route. Traditional publishing can be quite a slow process. And this is understandable because your work is not the only one your publishers are handling, especially if you are using a renowned publishing house. It could take months or years before your book goes public. Although rare, it is also possible for your book to never get published. Whereas, with self-publishing you have the total leeway to decide when to publish. There is no waiting list, all you need to do is click the ‘publish’ icon, and that’s it.
- Professionalism: Traditionally published books are usually more professional. Most publishing houses have in-house professionals who handle the various aspects of publishing. And all these without the writer stressing too. When you see a tacky book, it is most possibly a self-published one. Most authors cannot afford to pay for all the professional help their book needs. Hence, they end up with unattractive books.
- Prestige: Books that come from publishing houses are more esteemed than their self-published counterparts. Most notable awards in the writing industry don’t consider self-published books. Although there are award opportunities for self-published books, they are not as prestigious.
These are the significant differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing. You need to assess each option objectively and see if it aligns with your goals as a writer. The ball is now in your court.